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Going Through a Divorce? Don’t Forget to Update Your Estate Plan

July 17, 2020 CSBB Blog

Divorce is a life-changing event. After dealing with custody issues and the division of property, it’s easy to understand why so many people forget to update their estate plans. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that failing to update their plan can lead to results that you were trying to avoid in your divorce. If you are recently divorced or in the process of divorcing, speaking to a Palm Beach County estate planning attorney can save you a great deal of frustration later on. 

Make a List

The first thing you need to do is make an inventory of any funds, accounts, and any other financial or legal agreements that name a beneficiary that may need to be updated.  For example:

  • Investment and retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401k accounts
  • Bank accounts that are payable on death to a beneficiary
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Insurance policies
  • Health care proxies
  • Wills and trusts

In Florida, when a spouse marries an individual after said individual has already created and executed his or her estate plan, the spouse is entitled to receive a share of the deceased individual’s estate. This is known as a Pretermitted Spouse. Florida law provides for a statutory share for this situation. 

Think carefully about any changes that need to be made to your existing estate documents – a single oversight can have tremendous consequences. You may need to make changes if you named your ex-spouse or their children as your beneficiary.

Under Florida law, any provision of a will or trust pertaining to a former spouse will be made void upon completion of your divorce. If you do not want this to happen, you need to plan accordingly. However, you will also need to consider what steps you need to take for your children and your new spouse if you plan to remarry. 

Think About Guardianship and Custody Issues

You also want to give careful consideration to who will be responsible for taking care of your children or other dependents after the divorce. While you cannot deny your former spouse their parental rights, you may be able to provide some protection for your children if you are worried about their fitness as a parent. This can be especially beneficial if you have disabled children or other dependents who are in need of acute care. 

Most people just want to make sure their children are provided for. You may want to consider creating a revocable living trust to make alimony or child support payments as required. This ensures that they will receive the financial support they need without having to deal with probate. In addition, the trust may help you realize certain tax benefits.  

Meet with a Palm Beach County Estate Planning Attorney

Once you have inventoried your assets and thought about custody and guardianship issues, the next step is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney. If you try to amend your documents on your own, you face two potential risks: 

  • You will create inconsistencies or conflicts among different estate documents 
  • Your modifications may not comply with the law

Whichever the case, making your own revisions or modifications to your estate documents can give rise to potential disputes. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you make the changes you need with an eye towards preventing disputes and avoiding uncertainty. 

Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun

Whether you are contemplating divorce or working your way through the process, you should consider adding a Palm Beach County estate planning attorney to your legal team. We can help you navigate the difficult issues so that you can protect the future you’ve worked so hard to build. To schedule an appointment to discuss your needs and how we can help, contact us online or by calling us at 561-626-2101 or toll-free at 800-226-1484. We work with clients throughout the state of Florida.

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