The Almost Divorced
Separation and Divorce are stressful times. There are many factors to consider and meeting with a divorce attorney will perhaps open up more questions than answers. However, it is critical that the divorcing spouse be aware of what could happen in the interim…that time between the separation and the final divorce decree. If one spouse dies during the “pre-divorce” period – what could happen?
From the point of view of estate planning: When a person had decided to file for a divorce, there are immediate steps to take so that there is not an ‘unintentional’ inheritance. These are steps that should be considered/implemented even BEFORE the final divorce decree takes effect:
1. Review all beneficiary designation changes,including life insurance policies and IRA’s
2. Review/revise your estate plan and decide if (what) you want your ex- spouse to inherit.
3. Review your will – revise your will immediately upon filing for divorce– do not wait until divorce is finalized
4. Decide changes of guardianships/conservator of any minor children. You are on your way to becoming possibly a single parent. Review successor trustee arrangements to protect your minor children, for example if your soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law has been named as successor trustee.
6. Deeds (Property, Land, etc.)– if a divorcing spouse dies before the final divorce decree has been entered, the couple is still married. (Note the word ‘divorcing’ and not divorced!) The divorcing spouse could be entitled to all rights and privileges of a spouse and there is the potential of an “unintentional” inheritance.
7. Small Businesses – divorce between two business “colleagues” is particularly fraught with issues. If you are co-owner of a family business or your soon-to-be ex sits on the Board of Directors or holds an executive position, there is an imperative to take appropriate legal counsel before any divorce proceedings are enacted.
Above all, seek the counsel of a qualified attorney for advice about your rights as a divorcing spouse.
Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World.
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