Recently Divorced? Here are the First 5 Things to do Regarding your Estate Plan

March 16, 2023
Brad Galbraith, Esq.

Are you newly divorced? No matter what age a person is divorce is painful and it is certainly not an experience that anyone ever wants to go through. Unfortunately, were you aware that there is a steadily rising trend of adults over the age of fifty who are divorcing?

According to many sociologists there are a number of factors contributing to the increased divorce rate among senior adults. These factors include frustrations over retirement plans, overall finances, and the fact that children, who may have kept the marriage together, are now older and out of the house. As stated before, divorce at any age is not easy, however, “Gray Divorce” poses significant issues and complications for seniors and their loved ones.

Right now, newly divorced, it may be hard for you to think about your future, but it is critical that you ensure you are protected once your divorce is finalized. We have 5 things you should do as soon as possible regarding your estate plan.

  1. Update your estate plan first. Updating your estate plan as soon as you can is very important when you are going through a divorce or immediately after. In almost all instances in Florida, North Carolina, or Indiana, your estate planning will be invalidated after your divorce is final. We provide legal services in each of these three states and are experienced in the representation you need in this area.
  2. Know that your estate plan is much more than just your last will and testament or your revocable trust agreement. It is important to update, if necessary, who inherits your assets at your death. Even more important is who will be there to make financial and medical decisions for you at a time when you cannot. Who will make end of life decisions for you.
  3. Update your agent in your power of attorney and your surrogate in your health care documents. It is common for many spouses to choose one another as their agent under their power of attorney or surrogate under their health care planning documents. This is a decision that spouses make because they trust their spouse with making important decisions at crucial times. However, when you decide to get divorced it is likely that your feelings change.  You may no longer want to leave your former spouse in charge and need to choose new decision makers who will care for you in times of crisis.
  4. Another planning tool you will need to update is your last will and testament and/or trust agreement once your divorce is final. When you created these documents you probably first had your assets go to your spouse.  In addition, be careful that you not only think about the estate planning documents that create your legacy, but also your payable on death or transfer on death accounts, such as insurance policies, IRAs, checking and savings accounts.
  5. Finally and most importantly we highly recommend that you schedule a meeting with your estate planning attorney as soon as possible to assist you in updating your estate plan and any other documents you may have. We know how demanding this type of planning can be at an already difficult time. To make it easier, start by making a list of questions you have that you want to ask your Florida, North Carolina, or Indiana estate planning attorney and the issues that concern you in regard to your divorce. The key to ensuring your planning protects you in a crisis is to take action early.

We know this blog may raise more questions than it answers. For more information about this or other planning options and how they might work for you and your family, please call our office to schedule a time to discuss this. Bear in mind, when choosing an attorney, it is important to find a legal professional who specializes in your specific legal needs. As a law firm that serves our clients in three states, we understand the unique challenges that state laws can pose. We are here to help you now, and in the future in the states of Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana.

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