For those who are divorcing, there are a myriad of legal and financial questions to consider. One task that should be in the forefront is revising a will. A person’s last will and testament is a key document that must be revised in a divorce, to avoid having the will include decisions made with the now-former spouse.
The purpose of a will is to ensure that your wishes are followed upon your death. A will includes several key areas: distribution of property and assets, naming an executor, and naming a guardian for any minor children. Upon divorce, the previous will should be revoked. This can be done by destroying all previous copies and writing and filing a new one.
Many married couples leave property to their spouse; but even in the most amicable divorces, this is unlikely to stay the case. While many states have laws that automatically invalidate bequests to former spouses upon divorce, not every state has these laws – and also may only take effect upon the final divorce decree.
Distribution Changes When Divorce Happens
The distribution of bequests is something that arises during divorce proceedings, as the former jointly owned residence, vehicles, financial assets, and other property are divided. Also, in a last will and testament, there can be important personal and sentimental items listed, as well as to whom each shall be distributed. The will should then be updated accordingly with all bequests.
For many couples, the other spouse was previously named executor. The choice of a new executor is a decision to be considered upon divorce. Since the executor is the person you appoint to oversee your estate, if it was the former spouse, a new designee should likely be made.
When considering naming a new executor, give thought to whom is a logical choice – whether a trusted family member, adult child, or friend.
Minor Children and Other Concerns
For couples with minor children, the appointment of a guardian is also a major decision. The purpose of a guardian is to designate an individual to take responsibility for raising children if neither parent is able or living. If an adult other than the surviving parent is name custodial, the surviving parent must be judged unfit to not gain custody. It is nevertheless prudent to name a responsible adult to serve as guardian, in the event both parents cannot.
These are several of the most critical estate planning issues to consider in divorce. It is also a good time to review life insurance and retirement policies, to remove the former spouse and name new beneficiaries.
Also recommended is to revise power of attorney agreements. A power of attorney gives someone the medical and/or financial authority to make decisions in these areas.
If you are divorcing or have questions about family law challenges, contact a knowledgeable South Jersey divorce lawyer for guidance.
The South Jersey divorce lawyers are experienced in working to protect your assets and your rights during a divorce. We have offices in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey and represent clients in South Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County. For a free consultation please contact us through our online form or call us at (856) 512-1461.