Estate Planning for Separated Spouses
Despite the best laid plans, things happen in life, and it doesn’t always go the way we plan. That is often the case when a married couple splits up, and separates. Despite the best intentions, it is sometimes unavoidable, and while the emotional and financial fallout can take a lot of energy, it may be worth looking at how these life changes may impact your estate planning.
You may have plans with your spouse involving trusts, guardianships of children, and insurance policies in place. You are probably named as the beneficiaries on each other’s retirement plans. Separating can affect all of these. Here is what to be aware of if you are going through this situation.
Review Existing Documents
First, it is important to be familiar with the existing documents, and have some understanding of how separating can impact them. Documents to be familiar with include, your living will, health care proxy, insurance policies, power of attorney, and any trusts you may have established with your spouse. The majority of these will need to be updated and replaced, to reflect the changes in your situation. After all, you and your ex-spouse may now have different ideas on what should happen to the assets when one of you passes away.
Look over and understand your life insurance policy. Be aware of what it guarantees, and how it is paid for. The owner of the policy is responsible for making payments on the premium. The owner can also make determinations on beneficiaries and how the benefits are paid. You will want to make sure your family is in a position to be cared for should you or your ex-spouse pass away prematurely. Life insurance can work to guarantee the continued payment of things like alimony and child support. Instituting a trust as owner of the insurance policy is a good way to ensure there are no gaps during the separation and divorce process.
It may be worth setting up a revocable living trust, which will direct payments to alimony and child support. You will be required to fund the trust, which ensures the payments are made according to your provisions. An additional benefit of this is that the funds will be directed to your heirs at the time of your death, and will not be tied up in probate. There are also tax advantages to setting up a trust like this, should you be going through a separation.
Consult with an Estate Planning Lawyer
While it might not be the first thing on your mind, adding an estate planning lawyer from The Mattar Firm to work on your situation may be a good idea, for the knowledge they can bring to the process. This may actually be the most important thing to do, as an estate planning lawyer can look for any gaps that may arise in your divorce settlement, and prevent anything unwanted from happening.
An estate planning lawyer can ensure you are protected from state and federal taxes, as well as ensuring that you and your beneficiaries will be provided for in the event of your ex-spouse’s death. They can also point out what impact the divorce will have on your retirement fund, and ensure your wishes are carried out at the time of your death. Divorce attorneys have a different set of priorities when working on your case, and may not have these issues at the forefront of their minds. An experienced estate planning lawyer at The Mattar Firm will know how to navigate the process, and provide the best advice possible moving forward.
When it comes down to it, your estate, and the people it benefits after your death are vitally important. Protecting your assets, and making sure your family will be provided for are important things, and an experienced estate planning lawyer at The Mattar Firm will work to ensure they happen.
Contact The Mattar Firm
At The Mattar Firm, our experienced estate planning lawyers can help with your estate planning needs. Contact us today at 239-222-2222.