Getting divorced or even considering divorce is an emotional time for spouses, not to mention the families involved, and we tend to focus more on these aspects along with the practical issues such as finances and custody.
Divorce also has a big impact on your estate planning documents, and it’s important to realize that you are considered married until the judge signs the divorce decree. As a married couple, you have a significant influence over the other’s estate both in life and in death. That is an important issue to consider if divorce is a possibility.
Powers of Attorney
During the course of a marriage, many times spouses execute powers of attorney naming each other. These may be powers of attorney regarding finances, incapacitation and more. These powers of attorney should be reviewed if a divorce is pending.
Most spouses name each other as beneficiaries of their estates, and often as the Executors of the estate. If you are considering a divorce, remember, it is a legal process that takes time, and should the unthinkable occur during this process, you need to consider if you want your spouse to have control over assets and your estate.
Should you be named as a beneficiary of a family member’s estate, and they pass before a divorce is finalized, their estate essentially becomes part of your estate. Again, if the unthinkable occurs, your spouse may be entitled to items that your family member may have wanted to ‘remain in the family’.
These are just a few of the many divorce and estate planning issues. Each can be addressed through properly drafted estate planning documents to ensure that your wishes are kept up to date. Make sure you work with an estate planning attorney to give you the best advice for your specific situation.