Estate Planning Before and After Divorce

Divorce is rarely a simple process. Former couples must go through the lengthy process of dividing their assets and come to an agreement on a multitude of subjects including custody over their children, who will keep what and each party must review their estate pan before finalizing the legal separation.

If you are considering a divorce or have already started the process, it’s extremely important to review your estate plan to ensure that it reflects your new life change. However, careful estate planning should really begin before the divorce process ever gets started. With the help of an experienced attorney to guide you, the complex world of estate planning can be simplified to make sure this aspect of your divorce is taken care of in a timely manner.

Estate Planning: What You Should Take Care of Before and After Your Divorce

If you and your spouse have already taken the appropriate steps to put an estate plan in place during your marriage, then it is important to rethink those decisions as your marital status will change. Many of the actions you will need to take to get your estate in order before and after divorce involve paperwork processes.

This makes having a plan of action in place extremely beneficial, as you can simply check each item off of a list as it is completed – giving yourself more time to focus on other the other changes in your life during this time of transition. Here we will discuss which accounts and documents you should review before filing or finalizing your divorce and what actions you may want to take.

Accounts Payable-on-Death

Some of the first items you should address before your divorce is finalized include all of your payable-on-death accounts. These include checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts. In most cases, people are able to skip the formal probate process and assign a beneficiary directly to the account when they open it. This means that many new account holders list their spouse as the beneficiary when the sign up with a new financial institution. If you are the sole account holder, you should be able to contact your financial institution and change beneficiaries with ease.

Life Insurance Policies

Most life insurance policies are fairly flexible in the fact that you are able to change the beneficiary at any time. If your spouse is named as the beneficiary on any of your life insurance policies, be sure to speak with your insurance agent or check out your online options for change-of-beneficiary documentation and complete it as soon as possible.

Wills and Trusts

Estate laws make it difficult to draft a new will that excludes a spouse in most states but they can be easily changed to exclude an ex-spouse. Similarly, trusts can be difficult to alter and in some cases may be irrevocable. However, whether or not you can make changes to a trust will all depend on how it was set up in the first place. Reaching out to an experienced estate planning attorney at Yardley Law is the best way to explore your options in this type of situation.

Power of Attorney

If you ever signed paperwork that gave your spouse power of attorney over your health care, finances or other important matters, you’ll need to file documentation to revoke that power. While some amicable divorces can result in a former spouse retaining a power of attorney, in most situations you will want to designate someone else to hols power of attorney in case of an emergency.

Children and Divorce

If you and your ex-spouse have children, there are additional considerations to keep in mind before the divorce is finalized including:

  • Who should be named as guardian if something should happen to both parents?
  • Whether you are able to work together to set up trusts designed to benefit the children in the future.
  • Any legal or written agreements that will ensure other family members on both sides are able to maintain a relationship with the children. (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.)

Estate Planning with Yardley Law

Interested in learning more about the benefits of working with a skilled and knowledgeable estate planning attorney? Call (321) 633-0400 or contact us today for more information.


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