After a divorce, your estate plan is probably not the first thing on your mind. But making changes to the plan could be extremely important to provide peace of mind that your wishes for the future will be carried out.
How Does a Divorce Impact Your Estate Plan?
During marriage, most people tend to leave a portion of their assets to their spouse and any children from the marriage. After a divorce, those wishes may change substantially. Some choose to disinherit their ex-spouses, while others want to reduce the inheritance amount. If you are paying child support, you may anticipate not having much money to spare in the future.
If you do not make any changes to your plan, then your ex-spouse might receive a portion of your assets in a way that you did not intend. Even when laws say that a divorce voids gifts to an ex-spouse made in a will signed before the divorce, other estate planning devices still could apply. For example, you might have designated your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of a trust or a life insurance policy. The only way to disinherit him or her is by changing the beneficiary designation.
Making Changes to Your Estate Plan
Once you decide that you need to make changes to your estate plan due to divorce, seek out legal advice. An estate planning lawyer can review your entire plan and determine which parts you need to modify. Often, you must sign a new will and sign quite a few other papers to make the adjustments. Be sure to mention any powers of attorney, retirement accounts, or other structures you have used to the lawyer. You might not realize that they need changes too.
As you discuss the new estate plan, you will need to consider how to redistribute money that you might have given to your spouse in the past. Perhaps you would like to give to charity or save for your children’s college funds. Estate planning devices such as trusts, life insurance, or 529 plans can help you accomplish your new goals.
Finally, remember that you should continue to update your estate plan after many major life changes. You may remarry, move to a different state or country, have children, lose a family member, or inherit money. All of these events are good reasons to review your plan again.
Want to update your estate plan? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.