WHAT DO I DO ABOUT MY ESTATE AS I PROCEED THROUGH THE DIVORCE PROCESS?
Everyone has an estate plan, whether you previously worked with a professional to put one in place, or have left things up to fate. No matter where you are in the Divorce process, now is the time to revisit your estate plan if you have not done so already.
Here are the issues you should consider:
1. Your executor and/or trustee: the person charged with settling your estate upon your death;
2. Your agent under your general power of attorney: the person charged with handling your personal and financial affairs should you become incapacitated; and
3. Your healthcare agent: the person charged with making health care decisions for you should you not able to do so.
What is often the case, a married person will name his or her spouse as the primary appointee in each of these roles. Unless otherwise specifically provided in the will/power of attorney, a Divorce terminates your ex-spouse’s appointment to these roles. This moves your back up executor, agent, etc. to the primary position.
Now is the time to review your plan to ensure that your former back up is suitable to be your primary. What’s the test? Simple – For your executor, trustee, agent: are they trustworthy, and will they be able to recognize and call for help if they’re in over their heads? For your healthcare agent: if you were hospitalized tomorrow, who would be there at your bedside? Anyone who fails these is not an appropriate person for the job.
Also, and this is important, if you do not have a written plan, you are leaving this appointment to the courts to decide, and who wants that?
Take away: Spend a few minutes and update all of your beneficiary designations to reflect the terms of the Divorce and your new wishes.
Discuss the benefits of a living trust with your estate planning attorney.
I’d encourage you to consider addressing these issues during your Divorce transition. While the issues to be addressed are many, with the right help it does not need to be arduous.
The best way to ensure that everything goes as smooth as possible is by hiring a professionals to help you.
You’ve taken the first step which is to learn all you can about the Divorce Process. For more information that can help you work through your Divorce please check out our blog.
These 4 Tips were brought to you by Andrew Cobin. Andrew is an estate and elder law attorney at the Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC. Andrew helps individuals and their families in the planning and administration of their estates. Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.825.1519.