An estate plan changes with your major life decisions. And divorce is a juncture that reshapes numerous aspects of life, including estate planning. When considering the situation’s gravity, divorce estate planning is important. Creating an estate plan is essential, but that doesn’t imply that your estate plan is a closed chapter of your life.
Updating your estate plan over time is more crucial. Above all, an original and updated estate plan is of utmost importance rather than a sketchy, incomplete one. This blog explains the correlation between divorce and estate planning, the significance of estate planning during divorce, and the crucial documents and tips for estate planning.
Overview: Divorce and Estate Planning
A divorce decree affects not just your present but also shapes future – estate planning. While a finalized divorce can settle your personal, legal and financial issues, it doesn’t update your estate plan. Hence, estate planning after divorce is essential. Besides, reviewing and updating your divorce estate plan after divorce ensures there is no confusion or misunderstanding later, and your wishes are honored.
Earlier, if you had created a Will, you would have named your spouse as a beneficiary or an executor. But, a divorce changes your relationship with your spouse. Moreover, bequeathing a portion of your estate to your ex-spouse would be the last thing on your list. Therefore, you should pay attention to changing your beneficiary after divorce.
Effect of divorce on estate planning
Divorce reshapes your life not only on the personal front but also in terms of legal aspects. Furthermore, divorce affects estate planning in the following ways:
1. Estate planning and last will
If your spouse was a beneficiary in the Will, a divorce decree automatically revokes your ex-spouse’s right to inherit the property. Although the divorce decree automatically neglects the part of your ex-spouse from the will, it is risky to rely on it as the clauses for in-laws still hold.
While the court neglects the primary beneficiary of the will(ex-spouse), next, it considers the distribution of assets to the contingent beneficiary(alternative). Furthermore, the assets pass through probate if you don’t mention an alternative beneficiary. Given the probate’s duration and cost, you should reevaluate your Will after a divorce if you don’t wish to pass your assets to someone else.
Furthermore, if you have nominated your ex-spouse as the executor of the will, update the documents of estate planning during divorce.
2. Guardianship of your minor children
Another critical point is that if you have minor children when you die, the state laws designate the surviving parent as their sole beneficiary. If you don’t want your ex-spouse to look after your children, update your Will at the earliest. So, estate planning for divorced parents is crucial.
3. Estate planning and non-probate assets
Certain documents in the estate are not a part of the Will and are passed on to the beneficiaries automatically. And the assets might go to your ex-spouse if they are the beneficiary. The documents not included in the Will are:
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Bank accounts with beneficiaries
- Investment accounts with” transfer on death.”
Therefore, you should contact the companies and institutions that hold your policies to change the beneficiary after divorce.
4. Estate planning and living trust
A living trust helps you to place the assets under the ownership of a trust and pass them on to your beneficiaries after your death. So, who needs a revocable trust? A revocable trust is an alternative to the Will to distribute assets. Moreover, an individual opts for a revocable trust to skip the complex probate process and to reduce estate taxes.
If you have created a joint trust with your ex-spouse, your assets will pass on to your ex-spouse upon death. Therefore, amending your trust documents after divorce is essential.
How long does it take to settle an estate with a trust?
If a trust manages your estate, it takes twelve to eighteen months to settle and distribute it to the beneficiaries. Further, the duration depends on the estate’s complexity and the assets’ liquidity. Moreover, the time varies from case to case. After settling the trust’s expenditures and pending taxes, the trust transfers the money to the beneficiaries when the assets are liquidated.
How long does money have to stay in an estate account?
Generally, the window for settling an estate before distributing the assets is about one year. Within one year, the executor has to settle the debts and pay taxes or any payments due before the distribution of the assets.
How do you know when an estate is settled?
Settling an estate is a comprehensive process that involves settling debts and filing tax returns or any outstanding bills. The probate court passes the decree of estate settlement only after ensuring the executor has performed the required duties. Further, if you want to know about estate settlement, you can find it in the public records. You can visit the probate court and check the records to track the estate’s status.
What are the legal documents needed for estate planning?
The following are the legal documents required for estate planning:
1. A Will for the distribution of assets
A Last Will is an elementary document for estate planning. A Will outlines your last wishes, assigns the assets to the beneficiaries, and the guardianship of your minor children. When someone dies without a will, the court distributes the assets according to state laws. Moreover, the probate court administers your Will according to the last Will.
2. A power of attorney for transferring your financial powers
A power of attorney(POA) authorizes someone else to manage your financial matters. Further, the POA is helpful when incapacitated or out of town. The authorized person should only utilize the designated powers and not misuse powers, e.g., financial or special powers. Besides, a power of attorney is valid during the grantor’s lifetime and ineffective after death.
3. An Advance Directive for managing your health
An advance directive or living will is a legal document that entails your preferences and end-of-life care decisions when you cannot express your wishes due to incapacitation. Moreover, it specifies your decisions regarding resuscitation, artificial nutrition, hydration (IV), and ventilator.
4. A living trust – an alternative to a will
A trust owns and manages your assets during your lifetime. After the owner’s death, the trustee (who manages your trust) distributes the assets to the beneficiaries. Furthermore, people create a trust to save the estate from the lengthy probate process, as the beneficiaries automatically inherit the estate upon the owner’s death.
Furthermore, reviewing the above documents after a divorce is essential.
3 tips for an estate planning
Estate planning is comprehensive. It entails numerous aspects for achieving the distribution of the estate, finally.
The following are the three crucial tips for the settlement of estate of deceased person:
- Ensure all the documents (will, trust, directive, and POA) are in place.
- Inventory the assets and assign the proper beneficiaries.
- Choose the right professionals (estate lawyers and attorneys) for your estate.
Divorce and estate planning are interrelated, as a divorce changes your relationship with your ex-spouse. However, the court may declare some legal documents void after filing for a divorce. However, it only applies to some documents. Assuming the divorce decree would update your documents and estate plan is risky. Nevertheless, estate planning for divorce is essential, and you should address it to avoid any misunderstandings while the distribution of assets later.
We at Clocr can help you to create your Last Will. A Will is the most crucial document in estate planning and helps you to outline a clear roadmap for your loved ones during your lifetime. Besides, the court administers an estate without a Will according to state laws. Clocr guides you through the transition and helps make enlisting your assets and assigning them to beneficiaries less cumbersome. Furthermore, with Clocr’s services, you can create your Last Will in just 10 minutes! So, stop procrastinating your estate plan. Join CLOCR today.