There is no doubt that you may be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and tired of meeting with lawyers if you have recently gone through a divorce. You’ve probably already done quite a bit: separated assets, sold or moved into a new home, negotiated a custody agreement, and accounted for new living expenses. You’ve done a lot, but there is one more thing that is often overlooked and is equally as important: updating or creating an estate plan.
The recently divorced need an estate plan as quickly as possible.
You may have already made a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney or a Guardianship plan with your former spouse. If that’s the case, it is very likely that your estate planning documents state preferences that are no longer ones you would choose. In most instances, estate planning documents can simply be revoked and replaced by new documents. However, this is something that should be done right away.
And if you have never made an estate plan, NOW is definitely the time! A well-documented and carefully tailored estate plan is recommended for just about everyone, but for someone who has been recently divorced, an estate plan is essential. Without these documents, the state of Tennessee will determine how your assets will be treated, who will inherit your estate, and who will take guardianship of your children. Because these default laws often do not take into account family circumstances like divorce and remarriage, they will very likely create a result that is not preferable. Regardless of your relationship with an ex-spouse, you probably don’t want them making financial or health decisions for you going forward. Get this plan updated.
Having minor children with your ex-spouse is difficult enough. Once matters regarding custody have been settled, it is also important that you update your estate plan to ensure that your assets will serve your children well and that they will be cared for by a trusted adult if something should happen to you or their other parent. If you have minor children, you will want to designate someone to serve as guardian in your Will. The children’s other parent will likely be given the first right of custody; however, if he or she is unwilling or unable to take custody, your guardianship designation can help the court choose a trusted person to take custody of your children.
Any assets that you choose to leave to your children will not be immediately transferred to them if you die before they reach the age of 18. Instead, the court will appoint a custodian to manage the assets until the children turn 18. However, if you are concerned about your children inheriting a major windfall while they are still young, there are steps you can take to ensure your wishes about how and when they receive your assets.
A trust gives you control over how funds are distributed and used. This gives you more influence over your children’s future, including education. In the trust documents, you can name a trusted individual or financial institution to act as the trustee and distribute assets to your children in accordance with your instructions. If you want to leave minor children any accounts or life insurance policies, you can name the trust as a beneficiary to ensure that the funds will be managed properly.
The main point of this is there is definitely some planning you need to do now if recently divorced. Call or email our office and we can help!