When moving into a new home, always check the smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. You just bought a new house, make sure it doesn’t burn down. This makes good sense. But after a divorce, it seems most people would rather just be done than take the next step to protect their newly acquired separate property.
No one would embark on a long trip to a new land without making some necessary arrangements. Yet people regularly move into a new life as a single person without the necessary planning to ensure that loved ones and property are protected as they intended, and that their affairs are taken care of if they become incapacitated or die.
Fact: everyone over the age of 18 needs an estate plan. Yet it becomes even more pressing when one is newly divorced. After a divorce, our Estate Planning attorney will review assets to ensure that title has been updated and is held properly, that account beneficiaries reflect the newly-single person’s wishes, and that children are protected from future step-parents.
I often get sad calls from people who learn their step-parent is getting what was supposed to be their inheritance. Why? Because mom or dad didn’t plan – they simply put it off for “later.”
If a divorced party should unexpectedly die before creating a new estate plan, the ex-spouse might receive control of assets that had been intended for the children. While the surviving parent might have the children’s best interests at heart, that person’s new spouse may not. Make certain that the legacy intended for the children does not end up in the pockets of the opposing party and their new love-interest.
The great thing about Estate Planning is, if you’re still fortunate enough to reading about it or thinking about it, it’s not too late to act on it. Don’t leave your loved ones in the position of having to call my office to ask if we can “fix” things: “Mom died without a will,” or “Dad said, ‘Everything’s taken care of!’ but we can’t find his estate plan.” Attend to your estate now, and leave your loved ones the best legacy possible. A legacy you plan, not the default that will enrich tax collectors, bill collectors, and will surely divide families as they fight over “What mom would have wanted.”