Most couples enter into marriage with the hope that the union will last forever. As such, couples typically blend assets, name each other as beneficiaries in estate planning documents, and assume the other one will take care of the children in the event of death. Sadly, more than 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. If you are in the middle of a divorce, or who has recently concluded the divorce process, you may not have considered the impact the divorce has on your estate plan. While most people consider the immediate financial concerns associated with a divorce, most fail to look at the estate planning concerns that are also associated with a divorce. Consider the following estate planning documents that could need to be amended, created or revoked as a result of your divorce. However, before taking action, consult with both your divorce attorney and an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney because California law imposes certain “automatic temporary restraining orders” during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. Changing estate planning documents that violate these orders could result in advance sanctions by the judge presiding over the divorce proceeding.
With that said, the following are actions to consideer:
Execution of a new advance healthcare directive if one was executed in favor of your ex-spouse at any point in time and in any state.
Revocation of any existing powers of attorney that gave your ex-spouse agency powers.
Appointing a guardian, or modifying a previous appointment of a guardian, in your Will for your minor children.
Removal of any bequests to your ex-spouse in your Last Will and Testament.
Replacing your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of pension plans, life insurance policies, ERISA plans, investment plans, or pay on death accounts. Don’t make the mistake of counting on state laws to automatically disinherit your ex-spouse as a result of the divorce.
Creating a trust, and appointing someone in whom you have both trust and confidence in their financial abilities, as trustee. You can then direct your estate assets that are meant for your children into the trust and be assured that someone other than your ex-spouse will oversee those assets.
With careful planning under the supervision of qualified and experienced estate planning attorney, you can accomplish your goals of control