Divorce can often be very emotional and place a divorced party in financial ruin. The last thing anybody who has been through divorce wants to engage or participate in is estate planning. There may be outstanding attorney’s bills, child support obligations, or other debts caused by living in separate households. Whatever the issues, Attorney J. Joseph Weber cannot stress the importance of moving on and thinking about life after divorce. What will happen to your children or assets should you die? As a family law and estate planning attorney, he understands all too well the importance of estate planning post-divorce. In this blog, he will respond to your frequently asked questions related to this topic.
1) I just went through a long drawn protracted divorce. Why should I work with yet another lawyer to create or update an estate plan?
Unlike divorce, an estate plan is simpler and can be accomplished efficiently without court involvement. Whether you previously had no estate plan in place or need a new one, now is a better time to undo previous decisions of who was to receive your assets, money, or property when you were married.
2) Before my divorce I made a will/trust while I was still married and now that we are divorced, how will I go about updating this?
We have good news for you. You have the ability to revoke any previously devised wills or trusts. This simply means destroying the existing will/trust and starting anew. You may now modify (remove or add) names of those you had previously designated and leave your property, assets, belongings to someone else. Even your executor or trustee (someone legally designated by you the testator to act on your behalf after you have passed away to take care of outstanding financial obligations) can be changed, especially if you had previously designated your ex-spouse and have a new spouse or want a family member to now serve in this role. In terms of guardianship of any surviving minor children, you may be able to state your preference of a guardian to take care of your children. However if the other parent is alive it may get complicated, but it is better to state a preference for a judge to consider should the matter become an issue in family court over custody of the child.
3) Prior to the divorce I designated my former spouse as beneficiary for the following: life insurance policies, retirement accounts, pay-on-death bank accounts, transfer-on-death accounts, transfer-on-death brokerage accounts. What will happen to my beneficiary designations now that I am divorced?
It is highly recommended to make these changes as soon as the divorce has been finalized as parties may be precluded from making changes during an impending divorce. There may be certain accounts/assets that may not be covered in the will/trust. Therefore contact the plan administrators, employer, brokerage company, bank, institution, or insurance company to update beneficiary designations or your spouse may inherit these assets.
4) What about powers of attorney?
This can get tricky because you may not want your former spouse to act on your behalf for making any medical decisions or financial matters and should be revoked if they have been previously named. Either way someone should be designated to carry out your end-of-live wishes or treatment decisions or to handle paying bills, paying taxes, make investment decisions while you are ill or incapacitated.
The Weber Law Office: Working With Divorced Clients with Their Estate Planning
Please call the Kansas Estate Planning Lawyer at (316) 265-7802 if you would like to learn more about your legal options. Dying or getting ill without a will can be catastrophic and place a burden on your loves ones left behind. As such, call The Weber Law Office, P.A. now to get your estate plan started.