If you are recently divorced or going through a divorce, you may be concerned about your estate plan.
If you previously did estate planning with your ex-spouse, you may recognize that many things need to be updated. You likely had selected him or her as the person to make financial and healthcare decisions for you. If you had a living trust, it was likely a joint trust that included both your and your ex-spouse’s assets and plan. Now that you are divorced, your previous estate plan is possibly legally invalid, and even if valid, probably gives your ex-spouse powers that you no longer wish for them to have. Additionally, your financial picture is going to be different than when you originally created your estate plan, and those changes need to be taken into account. You need a new plan that is designed just for you.
If you never created an estate plan with your ex-spouse, you may be wondering what the risks are? In this, case particularly if you have children, one of the biggest risks is that any inheritance you leave to your kids will instead end up in your ex-spouse’s hands, if your children are under the age of 18. If they are over the age of 18, maybe you are still concerned that your ex may be able to influence them to give him or her money, instead of using it for college or other purposes that benefit your children.
Also, under the law, there always needs to be someone who can make legal, financial and healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated. If you are married, you may be less worried about this, particularly if you have joint accounts. After a divorce, however, these decisions become even more important. If you do not choose someone yourself, then the judge of the probate court will choose someone for you. This is done via a process called “conservatorship” which is lengthy and costly.
Additionally, you may have someone new in your life, but given your experience with divorce, you may not want to legally marry them. You may also not be ready to leave them your entire estate and want to make sure your children are protected, but at the same time wonder how you might be able to take care of your significant other while still making sure your children will ultimately receive their inheritance. Further, if you live together with someone else but you are not married, there are special considerations that must be made when it comes to your estate plan, to make sure that your estate goes to who you want and so the court doesn’t make the decision for you.
A well designed and custom made estate plan can help protect you and your family from these risks, and ensure that your estate goes to the people you want. Schedule a consultation today and have your questions answered.