Divorce can upheave anyone’s life in various ways, from the time they have to spend with their children to their financial situation and everyday work schedule. Most divorced individuals must acclimate to new living arrangements while managing their responsibilities under their divorce order. While adjusting to your post-divorce life is likely to be challenging in various ways, it’s vital to give estate planning appropriate consideration. Whether you already have an estate plan in place or need to create one, your divorce has likely altered your end-of-life plans and goals in various ways.
An experienced estate planning attorney is a vital asset when you must account for a recent divorce in your end-of-life planning. While it’s difficult for some people to approach topics like death and inheritance, it’s vital to give estate planning appropriate consideration to alleviate the stress your family is likely to face if anything happens to you. Life can present unpredictable challenges, and having a legally enforceable estate plan offers peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Take time after your divorce to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you make the changes you need.
Essential Components of an Estate Plan
Your estate plan can accomplish many things, but the main purpose of creating this type of legal arrangement is to spare your loved ones as much of the probate process as possible. Probate is the legal procedure for resolving a person’s death, settling their outstanding debts to creditors, and distributing the remaining property to their beneficiaries. Missouri uses the law of intestate succession in probate, so a deceased person’s surviving spouse is likely to be first to inherit their remaining assets, followed by their surviving children and then other extended relatives and beneficiaries.
An estate plan can contain your last will and testament, a legally certified document that explains your last wishes to your family. This document is an opportunity to explain how you would like your assets distributed after your death. You can name specific beneficiaries, and you can name a personal representative to resolve estate administration on your behalf. You can also explain your preferences regarding end-of-life medical care. For example, some individuals hold spiritual or cultural beliefs that prohibit certain types of life support or medical intervention, and others have other preferences for more expansive life support and palliative care.
There are many ways to customize an estate plan. For example, you could create a living trust that can potentially help your family avoid probate and minimize estate taxation. It’s also possible to name an executor, trustee, and power of attorney, nominating your first choices to assume these responsibilities, followed by your preferred alternative candidates should they be unable or unwilling to handle their legal duties.
What You May Need to Change After Divorce
If you just recently finalized a divorce in St. Charles, MO, it’s likely that your now ex-spouse is still listed as a beneficiary in your estate plan. It is also possible they could be listed as your beneficiary on individual accounts you control. Your estate plan must reconcile with these designations as well as address any other significant changes to your financial status resulting from your divorce.
When a divorce order contains terms and conditions regarding child custody, it’s important to verify that your estate plan accurately reflects the terms of your custody arrangement. When it comes to child support and the other financial aspects of your divorce, your existing estate plan may contain terms related to property you had to liquidate in dissolution or that you no longer possess due to the divorce.
Ultimately, there are various issues you may need to address in adjusting your estate plan to reflect your divorce. When a divorce is highly complex and involves many sensitive issues, it may be necessary to effectively start over and create an entirely new estate plan with the help of an attorney.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Finalize a Divorce in Missouri?
A: Once a family court judge has approved a divorce order, the order becomes law, and the marriage is terminated 30 days from the date of their approval. During these 30 days, either spouse may appeal the ruling, or the spouses may ask the judge to rescind the ruling, effectively canceling their divorce. While this finalization process may only take 30 days, the process of resolving a contested divorce from the filing of the divorce petition to this point is going to be far more time-consuming.
Q: Do I Need a Lawyer to Change My Estate Plan?
A: It’s never wise to rely on an estate plan you made yourself without having an experienced lawyer review it. While you may be able to account for many eventualities that require attention in your estate plan, a good lawyer is likely to reveal details you overlooked. Having an experienced estate planning attorney help you create your plan can ensure it provides the peace of mind you expect.
Q: How Soon Do I Need to Change My Estate Plan?
A: Life is unpredictable, and while it may be difficult to approach further legal issues while reeling in the aftermath of a divorce, it is always best to give your estate plan the attention it deserves as soon as possible once you have your divorce order in hand. The sooner you adjust your estate plan, the better prepared you are in the event something unexpected happens to you.
Q: What Happens If Estate Administration Is Contested?
A: Even the most robustly developed estate plans cannot always prevent disputes from arising among the deceased’s surviving loved ones. Should any disputes arise concerning your estate, your family will likely need to resolve these issues through the probate court. If an estate plan’s legitimacy is called into question, the family must seek legal counsel from an attorney who can thoroughly review the estate plan in question and guide them through subsequent probate proceedings.
Estate planning may be an uncomfortable topic for some, but it’s a crucial concern for anyone who recently finalized their divorce in St. Charles. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible to start working on your new estate plan.