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Divorce: An Estate Planning Lawyer's Advice

Tonight's post on what to know about Estate Planning when you are getting or have gotten a divorce was written by our Wills, Trusts and Estates Guru, Steve Worrall.

When you are getting a divorce, it seems like there's no end to the paperwork. But one task that is far too often overlooked is making an appointment with an estate planning lawyer. Whether you have already put together an estate plan with your spouse (now ex) or you've never gotten that far, NOW is the time to sit down and make critical decisions.

For those who already created an estate plan, the most urgent need is to make changes to beneficiaries and powers of attorney. If you've listed your now ex-spouse as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy, for example, he or she may still inherit those assets from you upon your death. Even if you've been divorced for 20 years, the name you put on the beneficiary line can still be enough to send your money to that person. The law figures that if you didn't change it, you must have meant it.

Life insurance policies aren't the only place you may have your ex listed as a beneficiary, either. Your Georgia estate planning lawyer will help you review a variety of accounts, funds, wills, etc. to make sure that you change beneficiaries to someone more in line with your new life.

Keep in mind, too, that if your soon-to-be ex is still named as your healthcare proxy or has power of attorney, he or she could very well be put in charge of making your medical and/or financial decisions should you become incapacitated while your divorce case is still pending. Yes.  She could pull your plug. That bit of information right there should be enough to send people RUNNING to their estate planning lawyer's office!

There are other considerations if you have children. Inheritance put aside for your minor children could actually end up being managed by your ex the way they want. Instead, Georgia estate planning lawyers will often recommend that you create a trust that will benefit the children but is managed by the person you choose.

Things get even more troubling if your ex-spouse remarries. If you do not change beneficiaries and your ex inherits some of your assets, you would hope he or she would pass them on to the children you share. HOWEVER, if your ex dies before their new spouse, all of those assets (the ones that used to be yours) can go directly to the new spouse. This cuts your children entirely out of inheriting from you. In fact, if the new spouse has children, YOUR assets could go to those children instead of yours!

The unfortunate fact is that by the time you've gone through a divorce, you may feel like you never want to see another attorney again. Still, you want to protect yourself and your heirs by following through with a good Georgia estate planning lawyer. At least you will know that we are absolutely looking out for you!

For more information on the SIX DOCUMENTS you need to update in connection with your divorce, and the proper timing for doing so, please contact us today for free information.

Steve Worrall

Steve is headquartered in our office in Marietta but services all of our clients throughtout Georgia via our offices in Atlanta, Lawrenceville, Canton, Gainesville and Savannah.

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