The legal process of divorce can be overwhelming emotionally, especially as it relates to the financial disruption that occurs with the divorce process. Each divorcing person has an interest in protecting their financial future-not just the near term, but also following their death. Too often the divorce process focuses attention on the immediate change of relationship, and the important consideration of the impact a divorce has on an estate plan gets lost. It is important to know how to protect your estate and the right time to make changes to estate documents.
With an impending completion of a divorce, the broken relationship also means that estate planning intentions have also likely changed. Whether or not you have already established an estate plan, it is important to create or update estate planning documents as early as reasonably possible in the process so that the estate plan tracks the broken marital relationship. For example, when a person passes away during an ongoing divorce, subject to the terms of the divorce, the distribution of assets of the now deceased, divorcing (or divorced) person will be governed by estate planning documents and/or beneficiary designations. Without creating or updating your will, trust or beneficiary designations, intentions to disinherit a former spouse will be lost, as well as the opportunity to leave assets to more desirable beneficiaries.
Renaming Beneficiaries on Special Assets
Changes to beneficiary designations on retirement plans (and sometimes life insurance) should be done after the divorce. Federal and state law protects spouses during the proceeding and courts will likely ensure that these designations remain the same throughout the divorce litigation process until proper court orders dealing with these assets have been entered.
The divorce process can be emotionally and economically difficult. If you are considering divorce or are in the process of one, contact our office for experienced, high quality representation.