Estate Planning Following A Divorce
After a divorce is finalized, people are usually exhausted and completely drained. There is plenty of paperwork involved with a divorce so many people do not take the time to think about any other paperwork or legal matters that should occur following a divorce. However, once a divorce has been finalized, the newly separated couple should be thinking about updating their individual estate plans. Following the divorce, the couple most likely has copies of their documentation which states their debts and assets as a result of the divorce, which makes it the perfect time to sit down and rework their estate plan. Speak with an estate planning attorney St. Peters, MO, relies on to help you with this process.
During a marriage, it is typical for spouses to automatically list one another as beneficiaries and to have joint access to bank accounts. Responsible marriages also include extensive estate planning, creating wills, and ensuring the children are well taken care of in the event of their deaths. After a divorce is finalized, it is important to think about how the couple would like their individual estates handled in the event of their deaths.
After a divorce, there are a few areas that should be addressed:
Upon the death of the insured, life insurance usually goes to the named beneficiary, however, a trust could also be named as a beneficiary. If an ex-spouse is the beneficiary, they will receive all of the funds. After a divorce, it is important to reassign the beneficiary to someone you would like the funds to go to instead of the ex-spouse. If you have minor children, a trust can be set up on behalf of the minor children and the trust can receive the life insurance proceeds.
When married and creating a will, it is most common for the spouse to be named as the beneficiary or executor. Following a divorce, a new will should be created to remove the ex-spouse from the will and to reassign the property and assets as desired. Many states automatically remove ex-spouses from estate documents, however, not all do so it is important to check and create a new will, if necessary.
If your ex-spouse is not a suitable guardian for your minor children in the event of your death, it is recommended to name a guardian in your estate planning. If the Court decides your ex-spouse is not fit to take care of your children, the Court may take your alternative recommended guardian into consideration.
Financial Accounts and Retirement
When you originally created 401(k)s, pensions, annuities, IRAs, as well as financial accounts including savings, checkings, and certificate of deposits, your spouse was probably named as the beneficiary. Your financial accounts and retirement benefits should be reviewed following the divorce to reassess who has access to the accounts and if the access, as well as beneficiary, should be updated.
There is a lot of paperwork involved with a divorce. However, to ensure your wishes are truly taken care of, it is important to spend time reviewing and updating a variety of documents. The most important documents to update following a divorce are:
- Life insurance beneficiary
- Powers of Attorneys
- Financial accounts
- Titles to assets
- Healthcare Power of Attorneys
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning.
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*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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