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Estate Planning After Divorce


For all of us, life is a balancing act ~~ and it is especially that after divorce. So much has changed and we don’t know in what direction to turn some days ~ It feels like much of what we’ve known has been upended and just thinking about tomorrow can be a challenge. Some days, that’s all we can manage. And that’s OK. But, eventually, depending on your circumstances and frame of mind and readiness, life will come to a place where you are comfortable making decisions beyond today and will be looking at your future and all the promises it can have.

How can you bring back some of that confidence and power you may feel you have lost? One such way is to make plans for those areas in your life where you can exert control and authority to make decisions ~ create your estate plan.

Perhaps you are divorced, or you will soon be divorced. Everything old is new now and your life is definitely not like it was when you were married. Maybe it’s better, maybe it’s worse or maybe . . . it is just new and strange. If you have children, your first and foremost priority is taking care of them and making sure that they are OK and healthy, mentally and physically. Your life has changed, but so has theirs and you want to be there for them in the best way you can.

You may have moved or your spouse may have moved out. At any rate, your home is different now or may now be sold or titled in your name or your ex-spouse’s name only. During your divorce proceeding, you had to account for all your joint possessions and divide them up as per what you both agreed to or what the Court and your attorneys helped you decide. Now, the property you received from the divorce is no longer owned together. Maybe you’ve had to sell some property and split up the equity or you had to open a bank account in just your name. From here on, your credit will be your own and any property or things you buy will not be jointly owned, but just owned solely by you. Your estate ~ the total property, real and personal, owned by an individual prior to distribution through a trust or will ~ looks very different than it did when you were married.

So, now you have different decisions to make . . . especially about the future distribution of these solely owned belongings. It is time to consider making a new estate plan. Here are some basic goals for your post-divorce planning:

  • Removing your spouse from any beneficiary designation (e.g. retirement, bank, insurance, annuities, and investment accounts on which they may have payable-on-death rights);
  • Making sure your children and other chosen beneficiaries are properly considered;
  • Revoking any joint estate plan you may have in place ~ now that your assets have been distributed between you and your former spouse – you cannot bequeath what you do not own;
  • Modifying any powers of attorney; and
  • Modify your health directive or living will.

What is contained in the plan is entirely your choice. How complex, how simple, it is your life, your circumstance, goals and values, and we want to help you make the best possible decisions for what lies ahead.

Without an estate plan in place, you lose control in all of these areas, and you leave so many questions unanswered. Your assets could go to your parents or siblings if you die without a will, or intestate. A guardian for your minor children may be appointed by the court. Probate can be expensive if you do not have your affairs in order. The hard-earned control and certitude that you found after your divorce, could be wiped away without a plan.

We can help you with your questions and with your planning. As a family law firm, we know divorce clients and your experiences, and our estate planning team can work with you to transition your life to one well planned and under your control. We would be honored to serve you in your new life.

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