What is Estate Planning and Why It Matters When You're Divorced
Life changes as it unfolds. If you are contemplating divorce, you have already figured this out. Whenever you experience significant life change, your estate plan needs to be updated to reflect these changes so they will carry out your current intent.
Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is a family law and divorce firm. Our lawyers are not estate planning attorneys. However, over the years, we have come to realize that family law, divorce and estate planning law are inextricably intertwined. When you need family law guidance, you likely need estate planning guidance as well.
Estate planning allows you to remain in control, protect yourself and your family, and pass along your assets in the way you want and when you want.
Divorce Related Estate Planning Tips
We encourage you to seek counsel from a qualified estate planning lawyer prior to or just after you have finalized your divorce; here are some items for you to consider with counsel.
- Update your estate plan but do not name your minor children as beneficiaries of your will or trust. Minors cannot legally inherit and your ex-spouse will likely be granted control over your assets; instead name trusts for the benefit of your children.
- Be sure you update your beneficiary designations so your ex-spouse does not inherit your retirement monies, life insurance proceeds, annuity payments, and pensions.
- Update your health care power of attorney so your ex-spouse is not authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Update your financial power of attorney so your ex-spouse is not authorized to manage your assets or have access to your financial information.
- Do not provide outright inheritances for anyone. You could disqualify them from receiving governmental assistance, fuel an addiction, enable them to make poor choices, or subject the inheritance to divorce or creditor seizure.
- Let your new trusted helpers (i.e. executors, trustees, guardians, and power of attorney agents) know your general estate plan and where to find your divorce related, estate planning, and other important papers.
- Provide them with the contact information for your professional advisors as well (i.e. divorce attorney, estate planning attorney, CPA/accountant, financial advisor, and insurance professional.)
- Make sure you have comprehensive insurance coverage (i.e. health, car, homeowners/renters, umbrella/personal catastrophic, disability, flood/earthquake/wind and hail, etc.)
- When you enter a new relationship, do not put your assets in joint names, communicate with your children from a previous relationship as well as your new partner or spouse, and update your estate plan, once again, to reflect your current life circumstances and wishes.
Consult with a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney
Our law office offers comprehensive family law services throughout New Jersey. We are family law attorneys; we are not estate planning attorneys.
However, we recognize that family law, divorce, dissolution, child support, child custody, property agreements, alimony, marital agreements, and the like are inextricably intertwined with estate planning issues.
We would be happy to work with your estate planning attorney; if you don't have one, we can refer you to a qualified estate planning lawyer who understands family law issues and would be a good fit for you. Contact us for an estate planning referral or to schedule a consultation regarding a family law related issue.