If you, a friend, or a loved one is going through a divorce, what estate paperwork should you or they have?
The first document that should be prepared or updated is the Last Will and Testament. If a couple no longer wants to be married to each other, they probably do not want to leave their property to each other either.
If there is no Will, and you die before the divorce is final, your spouse may wind up owning all of your property. If you have minor children that may inherit under your estate, your spouse may wind up being the Trustee of the minor children’s trust and be in control of their money. If you already have a Will, you will likely want to change the beneficiaries, and may wish to name a non-spouse trustee for any minor children.
You should also update or prepare new medical and financial powers of attorney. This way you can name a non-spouse agent to make medical and financial decisions for you if you become incapable of making them yourself while the divorce is pending. Chances are that if they no longer wanted to be married to you, or you no longer want to be married to them, you probably do not want them making your medical or financial decisions either.
This leads us to the final and perhaps most important document you should consider preparing in the event you are going through a divorce. It is called a Declaration in Event of Guardianship.
Even if you have powers of attorney, your spouse could file a Guardianship to override any of your powers of attorney if you become incapacitated. Normally, your spouse would be the first person that the judge would name as your guardian. By preparing the Declaration in the Event of Guardianship, you can make sure that person that you are divorcing, or that is divorcing you, will never be named Guardian of your Person or Guardian of your Estate.
If you or a loved one is going through a divorce and has questions about their Will or other estate planning documents, please give our office a call.