The importance of updating estate plans after a divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2018 | Uncategorized |

One life event that some Duluth residents do not realize can have a direct impact on their estate plans is divorce. Contrary to popular misconception, divorce settlements, decrees and intentions do not always take precedence over the state’s laws of intestacy. Regardless of why a relationship does not work out, if the testator does not revise her or his estate plans to reflect the divorce, the state may have the final say over who inherits assets and raises dependents when a person dies. 

One does not have to be old, in a relationship or deceased to benefit from having a will and other estate planning documents. Valid estate plans can keep family members and heirs from fighting over and disputing the testator’s wishes and prevent the courts from having to get involved in the distribution of assets as well as prevent probate issues. When reviewing your estate plans for revision, keep the following information in mind: 

Divorce does not sever all inheritance rights 

Divorces happen all the time for many various reasons. Regardless of the reason for someone’s divorce, the legal proceeding does not have much jurisdiction over probate matters involving inheritances. Georgia is one state where divorce keeps ex-spouses from inheriting. However, they can still take on other duties, such as guardianship of surviving children, powers of attorney and more. 

Unless a divorcee modifies her or his estate plans after the judge signs off on a divorce decree, that person risks people she or he does not want or know gaining control of her or his assets. In some jurisdictions, ex-spouses become next of kin and can prevent biological and stepchildren, new spouses and other heirs from receiving their rightful inheritances. If the deceased owned property in another state, that respective state’s intestacy laws take precedence. 

Estate plans must coincide with the divorce settlement 

It would seem as if the ideal time to update estate plans during divorce is at the start. However, once filed, couples should not to touch their estate plans until after their separations are final. Removing a spouse before a divorce is final could result in an uneven split of marital assets and create time-consuming and expensive disputes. Estate plans must coincide with divorce settlements and contain proper contingencies to preserve inheritances.

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