During a divorce, assets are divided between former spouses. Any existing will treats your former spouse as if they do not exist, once the divorce papers are finalized. During or after a divorce can be a great time to update your will or trust in order to make sure that your assets will go to the correct people when you pass away.
If you update your estate planning documents during your divorce, make sure you have an experienced estate planning attorney who can work with your divorce attorney to make sure you do not violate any court rules on assets.
One thing that can commonly be overlooked are assets with beneficiary designations, such as life insurance policies. These typically allow your ex to inherit if you pass away, regardless of whether you have a new will in place.
Making sure you have an experienced estate planner review your assets, is very important, so that your ex does not inherit assets that you do not intend for them to have.
During or after a divorce, it is vital to make sure you have guardian nomination documents in place if you have minor children.
This is particularly important in cases where one spouse has full custody. Guardian nomination documents allow you to appoint a trusted person to care for your minor children either temporarily or permanently, and lets you choose who will (or will not) raise your children.
When a single parent passes away, or is unexpectedly injured, there must be safety nets in place to determine who can pick the children up from school, and who should raise them if the parent is not able.
If these documents are not in place, who will take care of your children? Children are often cared for by social services on a temporary basis until a court can choose a new guardian, if there is not another parent with custody.
Planning ahead can make sure that your children will be cared for by the right people, and that they will not end up in temporary foster care if the unexpected occurs.
Many spouses have each other named to make end-of-life health care choices. It is particularly important to create new health care documents naming a new individual when there is a pending or finalized divorce. A pending or finalized divorce does not remove your ex from your advance directive (end-of-life medical choices).
Many spouses also have signed a HIPAA authorization, which allows for their spouse to access their personal medical information. During or after a divorce, it can be important to revoke that access, and to appoint another trusted individual to have access to health care information.
Power of Attorney
Many married individuals have each other named as each other’s power of attorney. This allows full access to all the financial abilities of each other, including access to assets, and the ability to take out lines of credit in each other's names. In some cases, those existing powers of attorney may need to be revoked, taking away a soon-to-be ex-spouse’s access.
Some individuals need a power of attorney during or after a divorce because they no longer have a trusted individual who can access funds if an emergency were to occur.
Commonly, a person may be incapacitated in an unexpected event, such as a car accident, and they need a trusted individual to access funds in order to pay bills, pay for health care, housing, or rehabilitation during the recovery period.
Call us today to discuss estate planning after (and during) divorce. (564) 208-7952.