If you are considering divorce, have already begun the process or are just wrapping up the protracted legal fight that was necessary to dissolve your marriage, your estate plan probably isn’t on your mind. You are likely more concerned with day-to-day issues like taking care of the kids, dividing the marital assets and debts, setting up a new household or tightening your financial belt to support a household on your own instead of with two incomes.
Clearly, at this difficult time, you already have a lot on your metaphorical plate, but the truth is that your estate plan may need some serious revisions amidst the fallout from a divorce. There are key aspects of an existing estate plan that will likely need to be significantly reworked if your marriage falls apart and you choose to divorce.
Conservatorships and Guardianships
Two key aspects of an estate plan that will need to be redone following a split are conservatorship and guardianship arrangements. Should you be the rare couple who genuinely remain friends and are comfortable with your former spouse making important medical care and financial decisions on your behalf, then you might not need to take this step.
If, however, you are in the majority of divorcing couples and your split comes with a healthy dose of contention or bitterness, you will want to update these documents as soon as is practicable. You don’t want to be in a situation where someone you no longer trust or respect is granted conservatorship or guardianship rights and is responsible for deciding upon your health care, managing your assets, making your housing arrangements, ensuring your personal needs are met and even buying the clothes on your back.
Another key aspect of your estate plan that might need to be addressed following a split is property allocation. You may have planned to leave your spouse certain family heirlooms or assets while you were married, but that could have changed now that you are no longer together. Any specific property left to your former spouse in your will is subject to change following a divorce, but, in order to save your heirs serious hassle and expense, you need to proactively update those allocations.
For example, if you have an antique that has been in your family for generations, you should ensure that one of your children is bequeathed that item so that your spouse cannot sell, destroy, damage or dispose of it.
Just because you are legally divorced does not mean that the provisions of your will automatically change to instead leave your belongings to children or other family members. After a divorce, you should strongly consider reexamining your entire estate plan, including naming new beneficiaries for insurance policies or accounts, ensuring that property is allocated appropriately and naming new conservators/guardians to care for your needs. To learn more about the interplay of divorce and estate planning, visit an experienced Texas family law attorney today.