Generally speaking, the intersection of family law and estate planning is divorce. When a couple decides to end their marriage, they will dedicate significant time and effort in negotiating compromises related to support, property division and parenting time. Unfortunately, many divorcing couples overlook the necessary revisions to their estate plan.
For a couple who has drafted a comprehensive estate plan, it is crucial that these documents are reviewed and revised when divorce becomes a reality.
- Will: While the primary focus here is the removal of your ex-spouse from the document, it might be wise to thoroughly review your extended family as well. You might have left certain property or items to individuals with whom you have no future relationship. It is important to ensure your heirs are accurate and up to date.
- Trust: Divorced parents might revise elements of a trust to account for their children after the marriage ends. While a minor trust might have already existed, it is not uncommon for parents to include additional funds, terms or restrictions after the divorce.
- Powers of attorney: It is not uncommon for individuals to identify their spouse as having medical or financial power of attorney in the event of incapacitation. After the divorce, though, it might be wise to ensure the secondary proxy is named as the primary and his or her duties are thoroughly explained after the change.
Additionally, the couple should examine elements related to their estate plan and overall financial picture, including:
- Life insurance
- Medical insurance
- Vehicle insurance
- Home insurance or renter’s insurance
Too often, individuals who take the time to craft a comprehensive estate plan forget that the document ultimately should be revised after significant life events. These events can include a change in marital status, the birth of a child or the death of an heir. It is wise to discuss what changes are needed to your estate plan with an experienced attorney either during the divorce or immediately after. Leaving revisions unmade can lead to familial disputes in the future. Additionally, your true end of life wishes might never make it to the amended documents.