Estate planning during divorce/dissolution

  • Estate planning during divorce/dissolution

    I occasionally receive calls from people who are just starting the process of getting divorced (legally called a “dissolution of marriage”) to ask if there is anything they should do about their estate planning documents even though they are not legally divorced yet. Unfortunately, when they ask the family law attorney, the attorney often says no, that they can wait. However, the answer is a resounding YES! There are things you should do at the start of divorce proceedings to protect yourself, your assets, and your children should you die or become incapacitated during divorce/dissolution proceedings. The Florida Bar Journal had a fantastic article by Dresden Brunner in the February 2012 issue explaining the various documents, positions of authority, and what would happen during dissolution and after final judgment. Make sure you ask your family law attorney for a copy of that article – if they don’t have it, then contact me by email and I will be happy to forward it to you for your personal use and reference and to share with your attorney. If your spouse is named as your attorney-in-fact, health care surrogate, personal representative under your Will, Trustee under your Trust (any kind of trust), or beneficiary of life insurance policies and IRAs as well as other accounts, and you do not want your spouse to act for you or get all your stuff (or your kids’ stuff), then you need to meet with an estate planning attorney to create or revise your documents to the best extent possible during proceedings to avoid unintended results.

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