Whenever couples go through a divorce, emotional and financial strain can be overwhelming. Estate planning is likely the last thing either person is concerned about. However, it is highly recommended that you revisit your estate plan after you go through a divorce. By updating the provisions of your plan, you will avoid much of unnecessary stress and complication that you would otherwise have in the future. As most Louisville estate planning attorneys understand, estate planning after a divorce is important if you want to ensure that your current plans and desires for the future are still reflected by the terms you set out.
The basic benefits of estate planning
The basic purpose of creating an estate plan is to make sure your family will be provided for in the future and prepared for what happens after you die. Estate planning provides a way to be prepared for unexpected incapacity as well. According to Louisville estate planning attorneys, planning ahead should be an important goal for everyone, not matter how small you believe your estate may be.
Having a plan gives you the advantage of identifying who you want to inherit your property when you die. A plan also helps you to ultimately benefit your family by reducing potential estate taxes. In case you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated, your estate plan can provide the security you and your family will need when you are incapable of making decisions on your own.
Significant changes likely needed after a divorce
There will likely be many provisions in your estate plan that you will want or need to modify following a divorce. If you don’t know where to start, our Louisville estate planning attorneys can help. The first step may be to revoke your will altogether and create a new one. Some of the changes you will likely need to make to your will include identifying your beneficiaries and your executor, especially if these individuals included your former spouse. If you do not already have a will, then you should seriously consider creating one. The same is true if you and your former spouse jointly created a living will and other estate planning documents.
Be sure to change your beneficiaries as appropriate
If you made your will while you were married, as most people do, it is very likely that you left everything to your spouse. Obviously, after a divorce that will no longer be the case. Therefore, it is crucial that you identify new beneficiaries, as well as alternate beneficiaries, whom you want to inherit your estate. For some, it will be necessary to reconsider gifts to relatives of their former spouse.
Although in most states any gift to your former spouse is automatically revoked after a divorce, not every couple would want this to automatically occur. For some spouses, the separation may actually be amicable. Either way, you should review the beneficiaries you identified in your estate plan to make sure that those provisions still express your wishes following a divorce.
You may need to select a new executor
As most Louisville estate planning attorneys know, the majority of clients who are married when they create their estate plans choose to name their spouse as the executor of their estate. But, after a divorce, that will most likely need to be modified. Just as you may no longer want your former spouse to inherit from your estate, you will most likely not want your former spouse to be in charge of administering your estate.
Much like the revocation of gifts to former spouses, there are some states that allow for automatic revocation of the appointment of a former spouse as executor of a will, or trustee of a trust. If you named an alternate executor, that person would automatically serve, as long as they are capable of doing so. However, in case your alternative executor is no longer available or capable, it is necessary to change your executor now, as well as select a new alternate.
Choosing a guardian for your minor children
Many people assume that, if they die while their children are still minors, the other parent will take care of them, even after they are divorced. While that might be true for most people, if both parents die at the same time, or within a short period of one another, there needs to be a plan in place for who will care for any surviving minor children. Also, in the event that your former spouse predeceases you, it is important to have a guardian selected, just in case. Our Louisville estate planning attorneys can help you with this aspect of your plan.
If you have questions regarding the effects of divorce on an estate plan, or any other estate planning matters, contact Gersh Law Offices, P.S.C. for a consultation either online or by calling us at (502) 423-7023.