After having just survived the stress and emotional turmoil that even the most amicable of divorces can bring, estate planning may be the last thing your to-do list. However, there is no time more critical than now to update or create an estate plan. If you leave everything as it is or forget to create an estate plan altogether, your ex-spouse could receive some or all of your assets when you die. The only way to completely control your assets is to update your estate plan regularly to account for any changes in your life.
Here are 4 reasons why you need a new estate plan after divorce:
1. A Divorce Does NOT Automatically Make Your Existing Will or Trust Null and Void
Many people assume that divorce automatically renders your estate plan null and void. This is not the case. You will need to destroy your old documents and then have new ones created in which you include specific language to denounce any other wills and trusts as null and void. If you were to pass away before doing so, you old will remains valid, but any clause that addressed your ex-spouse will lapse and apply to the back up beneficiary, representative, or successor trustee listed in your old documents. That is why it is almost always better to have a new will or trust that accurate reflects your wishes as newly single person today.
2. Ensure That Your Ex-Spouse Does NOT Control Your Children’s Assets
If you die without an estate plan and your children are still minors, then the court will most likely appoint their surviving parent or legal guardian- your ex-spouse- to manage their inheritance. This is a frightening thought for a lot of newly divorced people. The only way to keep this from happening is to create a new trust holding your children’s assets in trust and appointing a trustee of your choice to manage their assets rather than your ex-spouse.
3. Gain Assistance With All Required Updates
A good Tampa estate planning attorney will help you with your entire estate plan, not just draw up a will for you. The number of required updates can be overwhelming – especially after the emotional and financial stress of the divorce process. Some of those changes include:
- Revoking your previous will so a new one can be created.
- Update your healthcare surrogate and living will
- Name new powers of attorney
- Retitle certain assets if a trust is created
- Properly Fund the Trust
- Name new beneficiaries on pertinent accounts
- Appointing a new guardian for your children if you have any concerns.
4. Divorced Parents Have Specialized Estate Planning Needs
Divorced parents have different concerns than the average estate planning client. You will need to think about creating a trust to handle child support, alimony, and other assets. How to protect your assets from falling into the hands of your ex-spouse, or in the alternative, make sure your ex-spouse has enough to take care of your children if you die prematurely. An estate planning attorney who also specializes in family law is ideal for helping you think through these challenging matters.
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