Are you preparing for divorce or are you in the midst of a divorce? You’re feeling lost, confused, and overwhelmed? You’re thinking about hiring an attorney but are worried about racking up the billable hours? In fact, you’re not sure if you even need an attorney and that you can do it yourself? Your friends and family are giving you different advice and you’re not sure what to do? You’re totally out of your comfort zone and thinking day and night how to move forward?
Seek an Expert Guide Who Can Understand Your Situation
I can help. Today I am Collaborative Law and Estate Planning Attorney. Before law school, I was stuck in the judicial system myself in the process of divorce for seven years.
I know from my experience that the traditional court room option is expensive, time-consuming, public and severs any possible amicable future relationship with your soon-to-be-ex especially when there are minor kids involved. I won’t lie, divorce is overwhelming and very stressful. You get married thinking you were going to have a happily ever after, but for whatever reason, the happily ever after comes to a halt.
So, now I am inspired to help you walk the path in the least resistant way while making it cost-effective so that you can salvage your assets for your family while rebuilding your empire by creating a comprehensive estate plan to protect your loved ones.
My law practice focuses on both collaborate divorce and estate planning. As you read on you will understand why this is such a powerful blend of expertise to tap when preparing for divorce.
Where to Begin When Preparing for Divorce
For starters, take a big, deep breath, hold it for 3 seconds, and exhale. Now, go treat yourself to some self-care whether it’s taking a brisk walk or riding your bike. When you’re done and feeling relaxed, pull out your estate planning documents because it’s time to review it. And, if you don’t have any legal documents, now is a good time to think about getting it done. Let’s begin.
Update your Beneficiary Designations NOW
If you fail to update your plan before you file for divorce, a number of potentially harsh consequences can occur, some of which you’ve likely not thought about. Most divorce lawyers don’t address estate planning because it is not their area of practice. However, here, at Vázquez Law, we do. We have a unique approach to divorce entitled CollaBESTate™ where we combine the two (divorce and estate planning) as we evaluate your current and future situation. We help to empower you to make the best, informed decisions.
For example, if you decide to remarry after your divorce and 10 years pass, and you never changed your designated beneficiary (ex-spouse) on your 401(k) to your new spouse, your former spouse may end up reaping the benefits from your retirement account. In fact, that did happen to a distant acquaintance that I knew that died in a tragic accident and his former, second wife took all. Sadly, it had a financial devastating effect on his minor children.
Furthermore, you should also update your bank accounts, life insurances if you know these assets do not pass through a will or trust. Timing is crucial when making changes to beneficiary designations due to restrictions placed after a divorce is filed with the court. And, if you don’t have a will or a trust, consider creating a temporary divorce will now, until you complete the divorce process. Unless you tell me you’re comfortable with your soon to be ex-spouse taking all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s important that you know until your divorce is finalized, your marriage is still legally binding and in full effect. So, what does that mean in simple terms? It means if you die or become incapacitated (i.e. illness or injury) during the divorce process and you haven’t updated your estate plan, your soon-to-be ex-spouse could end up with complete control over your life and assets. Is that what you want? I’m guessing your answer is no. Take action now. Why? The state of Florida does have limits as to your ability to make certain changes to your estate plan once your divorce has been filed. And, if naming new beneficiaries is not an option now, once the divorce is finalized you can address it then without further delay.
Update your Power of Attorney Documents NOW
If you were to become incapacitated with a sickness or injury during your divorce, is it your spouse the person you want to step in to your shoes and make medical decisions for you? If your answer is no, it’s imperative that you update your Advance Health Care Directive legal document by naming the right person as soon as you know divorce is in the horizon.
Other estate planning documents to know about are a power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. A power of attorney allows you to grant a chosen person the legal authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. The medical power of attorney is the document that allows you to give legal authority to a person or persons to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
Decide What You Really Want When Preparing for Divorce
The question you should be asking yourself is whether you want your spouse to have priority to make these legal and financial decisions for you during the divorce process. Even in a best-case scenario, is it wise to have your spouse make those decisions? Before you begin the process, get the wheels turning and grant the authority to someone else, regardless of the current dynamics of your relationship at this time.
Give us a call at Vazquez Law, PLLC, 305.440.1888 to schedule a No-Charge, 15-Minute Consultation so we can help you.
We’ll continue with Part 2 in this series on the “MUST DO” updates to your estate planning when you’re preparing for divorce.
This article is a service of Vázquez Law, PLLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a PEACE Estate Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 305.440.1888 to get the process underway by scheduling a PEACE Estate Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Disclaimer: I am not your lawyer unless you have paid me for legal advice and we have signed an agreement. I am a licensed attorney in the state of Florida. The information provided here is solely for educational purposes only, and not legal advice. You should absolutely consult with a lawyer before making any legal decision for yourself or your family. If you do want to work with a lawyer, I strongly recommend considering a lawyer who has the heart of a counselor, and specific training on how to get families talking about hard subjects, with great ease.