Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic for some people, and it can be difficult for anyone to imagine the end of their life. However, giving estate planning appropriate thought and effort can pay off tremendously for you and your family. A comprehensive and legally enforceable estate plan provides you with peace of mind knowing your family can hopefully avoid a complex probate process after your death. When designed with care, an estate plan can make your wishes known to your family when it comes to how you want to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries and how you would like your family to handle end-of-life medical issues and funeral arrangements.
There are many ways to customize an estate plan, but it is vital to remember that your life is going to change over time. You need to periodically revisit your estate plan to account for any recent substantial changes in your circumstances, such as the birth of new children, acquiring new property, or the increased value of investments. It is vital to revisit your estate plan after any major life event, especially a divorce.
Beneficiary Designations in Springfield, MO Estate Planning
If you own bank accounts, stock, investments, insurance policies, and other assets, you have likely been required to list beneficiaries for these assets, designating who assumes ownership of them in the event of your death. Most people will list their spouses and/or children as their primary beneficiaries. When it comes to creating a legally enforceable estate plan, one of the biggest challenges facing estate owners is ensuring the individual beneficiary designations made for their assets align with their wishes for asset distribution listed in their estate plan.
When you have made such designations on your assets in the past, your now ex-spouse is likely still listed as a primary beneficiary of some, if not all, of them. After you finalize your divorce, if anything happens to you before you change your estate plan, your ex could have a valid claim to some or most of your estate.
Even when an estate owner has taken the time to carefully outline their beneficiary designations in their estate plan and all individual accounts and assets, it is still possible for beneficiary disputes to arise in many ways. One of the best methods for avoiding this stress is by hiring an experienced attorney to assist you with estate planning in the first place. This will significantly reduce the chances of anyone finding room to allege a dispute during estate administration regarding your selection of beneficiaries. However, this is never guaranteed. It is always possible for someone to allege that an estate plan is unenforceable somehow or that a beneficiary has disqualified themselves from inheritance.
How to Fix Your Estate Plan After Divorce
Adjusting to your life after divorce can be very challenging in various ways. Any divorce is likely to impose various financial constraints on the divorcing spouses, and they may also need to adjust to a new custody arrangement and visitation schedule if they have children. However, while these may be immediate challenges you face after finalizing your divorce in Springfield, MO, you should not overlook the importance of revising your estate plan to match your new reality.
An experienced estate planning attorney is the best resource to consult when you have concerns about how your recent divorce has impacted a standing estate plan. If you have not yet created an estate plan, it’s a good idea to consider crafting one with an attorney’s help in the aftermath of your divorce. This can provide you with valuable peace of mind during a very difficult time, especially if you have children.
Your attorney can review your estate plan to verify any changes that must be made to account for property division. For example, your standing estate plan may outline terms for property you were compelled to liquidate in divorce. Your attorney can advise whether the estate plan is salvageable with revisions or if an entirely new estate plan needs to be created. Ultimately, divorce can raise many important legal questions when it comes to estate plans, and it’s best to consult experienced legal counsel concerning your own estate plan after divorce.
Q: Do I Really Need to Hire an Attorney to Make an Estate Plan?
A: It is technically possible to write up your own estate plan, but ensuring it is legally enforceable and covers everything you expect it to cover is another matter. It is always best to secure legal representation when it comes to your estate plan. Whether you are building a new plan or adjusting an existing one, your attorney will help you make informed decisions and ensure your plan offers true legal enforceability.
Q: How Soon Should I Change My Estate Plan After Divorce?
A: While you may have many immediate concerns following the completion of your divorce, it is important to give estate planning the consideration it deserves as soon as possible after finalizing the dissolution process. Life is unpredictable, and if anything happens to you before you can revise your estate plan, your original plan may hold sway, or your loved ones may not be able to use it at all to avoid probate.
Q: Do I Need to Go to Court to Resolve a Divorce?
A: Some amount of litigation is typically necessary for every divorce. However, it is possible for divorcing spouses to avoid some amount of litigation by taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution. This process can potentially help make changes to your estate plan later easier to implement. For example, you and your spouse could find a way to avoid liquidating certain assets or making other changes that are easily reflected in your estate plan with minor adjustments.
Q: How Long Does Divorce Take to Complete in Missouri?
A: A divorce in Missouri typically takes several months to resolve. While a couple can submit an uncontested joint petition for dissolution, these are rare, and most divorces will take more extensive proceedings to resolve. If you want an estimate of the time your divorce will likely take to complete, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible for the guidance you need.
If you have pressing legal questions about your estate plan after a divorce, you should consult an experienced Springfield, MO estate planning attorney as soon as possible to discuss your concerns.