A separation or divorce can mean the start of a new life. It is also time to consider updating your estate plan. As you begin to plan for your new future, you will want to make sure that your estate plan fits your goals and wishes.
Updating Your Will
A divorce or separation is a good time to update your will. A divorce can change the assets in your estate, so you will want to obtain a separation agreement or divorce decree to account for all your property in your estate before making any changes to your will.
If you own a home with a spouse that was purchased during the marriage, it will be considered marital property even if it was only purchased in one spouse's name. When one spouse remains in a marital home, it is common for the spouse who moves out to pay the other spouse half of his or her equity share, which can drastically change the assets you have listed in your will.
If you make a change to one section of a will, keep in mind that the rest of the document will remain effective unless it is amended. When making changes to a will, you should read the entire document to make sure that all necessary changes are made.
Creating a Will
If you do not have a will, now is the time to consider creating one. If you pass away without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state statutes. If you have separated from your spouse but have not updated your estate plan, this could mean that if you pass away without a will, your spouse will inherit your entire estate if you have no children.
If you have children with your spouse or from a previous relationship, your spouse may inherit part of your estate along with your children. Sometimes this can cause discord that results in litigation in probate court. Creating a will can ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes instead of according to state statutes.
Revoking Power of Attorney
If you have previously signed power of attorney forms, these will remain in effect even after a divorce is finalized. To revoke a power of attorney that you have previously signed, you can obtain all copies and destroy them. Make sure that you know where all copies of the form are kept.
A power of attorney may also be revoked by providing notice to the agent named in the document. This must be done in compliance with state statutes for revocation by notice, so speak to an attorney if you need to revoke a power of attorney by providing notice to the agent.
Protecting Assets in Future Relationships
If you have recently gone through a divorce, you understand how divorce can drastically change the assets in your estate. Estate planning can help you protect your assets going forward.
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement signed by the parties prior to marriage to determine what happens if the parties get divorced. Prenups allow future spouses to preserve certain rights and agree on what will happen upon divorce instead of letting a court decide later.
Prenups are often used to protect major assets, like a business. A prenup may also state how much spousal support a spouse will receive after divorce.
Prenuptial agreements can also impact how property will be distributed upon death and can protect an inheritance for children from a prior marriage if you ever remarry.
Just like many other estate planning tools, prenuptial agreements can help you determine your future instead of letting that be determined by a court or one-size-fits-all state laws.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
If you have questions about estate planning for reintroduction into single life, contact Nina Whitehurst at Cumberland Legacy Law by calling (931) 250-8585 or fill out our online form.