Divorce affects estate plan documents, rendering them invalid. Are you recently divorced? Divorce is painful at any age, and it is certainly not an experience that any of us ever envision or seek at the time of marriage. Did you know that there is a steadily rising trend of adults over the age of fifty who are divorcing? Professional divorce estate planning will assure your legacy is preserved.
Sociologists believe there are many 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. Again, it is true that divorce at any age is not easy, however, “Gray Divorce” poses significant issues and complications for seniors and their loved ones.
We know your divorce is difficult. We also realize that it may be hard for you to think about your future right now, but it is critical that you ensure you are protected after your divorce is finalized. We have five estate planning steps we recommend that our newly single clients should take immediately.
1. The updating of your Florida estate plan is one of the most time-sensitive concerns when you are going through divorce or immediately after. In almost all instances in Florida, divorce affects estate plan documents – your estate planning will be invalidated after your divorce is final.
2. Your estate plan is much more than just your Last Will and Testament or your Revocable Trust Agreement. It is important who inherits your assets at your death, but it is perhaps that much more important who will be there to make financial and medical decisions for you at a time when you cannot. This means updating your Health Care Directive documents and Durable Power of Attorney as soon as possible, in addition to the documents that distribute your assets.
3. Often, many spouses choose one another as their agent under their power of attorney or surrogate under their health care planning documents. This is a fairly common 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. Your Last Will and Testament or Trust Agreement is another planning tool that you need to modify after your divorce. When these documents were created your assets likely first went to your spouse. 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.
5. We highly recommend that you schedule a meeting with your Florida estate planning attorney as soon as possible to update your estate plan. 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 estate planning attorney and the issues that concern you regarding your divorce. The key to ensuring your planning protects you in a crisis is to take action early.
Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.