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Your Will and Your Divorce: Protecting Your Legacy

If you’re contemplating or in the middle of a divorce, your Will is probably not the first thing you think of. But it’s a crucial part of your divorce planning, and doing so early is essential for protecting your assets and ensuring your wishes are honored.

If you don’t have a Will and you’re getting divorced, it’s even more important to put that in place to make sure your assets are protected from your ex and previous family entanglements.

Why Updating Your Will Is Crucial During a Divorce

  1. Change in Beneficiaries: Typically, spouses are major beneficiaries in each other’s wills. Divorce means you might no longer want your ex-spouse to inherit your assets. Updating your will ensures that your estate is distributed according to your current wishes.
  2. Guardianship Considerations: If you have children, your will often includes guardianship details. Divorce may alter your preferences about who should take care of your children if something happens to you.
  3. Impact on Executor Choices: Spouses are often named as executors to manage estate affairs. Post-divorce, it’s crucial to appoint someone you trust to fulfill these duties. [This also applies to any medical or financial powers of attorney!]
  4. State Laws Vary: In some states, divorce automatically revokes the provisions in favor of a spouse. However, it’s risky to rely solely on this. Proactively updating your will can prevent potential legal battles or unintended outcomes.

Steps to Update Your Will During Divorce

  1. Review Your Current Will: Is your soon-to-be former spouse the beneficiary? Are their parties mentioned in the will that you no longer want to inherit?
  2. Consult a Professional: The Smart Law Firm can guide you through this and refer trusted advisors should your estate require complex planning
  3. Decide on New Beneficiaries and Executors: Reflect on who you now trust to manage your estate and care for your children. These decisions should reflect your current reality.
  4. Update Your Will Officially: Make changes through an attorney to ensure the new will is legally binding and devoid of errors or ambiguities. In this situation, don’t trust creating your will to an online-only legal forms provider – you’ll need a professional to oversee it.
  5. Communicate Your Changes: Inform the relevant parties about changes to your will. Transparency can prevent confusion and family tension after your passing.

Addressing Complex Scenarios

Joint assets, like a home, investment property and retirement accounts can complicate your legacy planning. It’s wise to deal with these complexities head-on:

  • Jointly Owned Assets: Determine how to handle property that remains jointly owned [if any] post-divorce.
  • Business Ownership: If you own a business with your ex-spouse, decide how to structure your business interests and reflect this in your will. Divorce for business owners is more complex.
  • Multiple Wills Across Different States: If you have wills in more than one state, update each to ensure consistency and legal compliance.
Change your will to allocate your assets

Conclusion

Updating your will during a divorce is not just about separating from your spouse; it’s about taking control of your future and ensuring your personal and financial affairs are in order. The peace of mind that comes from having an updated will aligns with your current life situation is invaluable.

By taking the necessary steps to review and revise your will during and after your divorce, you safeguard not only your assets but also the well-being of those you care about the most.

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