Ending a marriage is a major milestone for anyone, and the impact of your recent divorce is likely noticeable through almost every aspect of your life. While adjusting to post-divorce life can be difficult for anyone, it’s vital to avoid overlooking crucial financial concerns that should not be left unaddressed after a divorce in Wichita. Specifically, you must revisit any estate plans you may have made that no longer accurately reflect your circumstances.
While thinking about estate planning may be uncomfortable for some people, it is a crucial concern for anyone who wants to help their loved ones avoid lengthy and expensive probate proceedings. If you are recently divorced, the thought of addressing further legal issues can be very stressful, but the point of an estate plan is to protect your family as much as possible from life’s unpredictability. If you do not address your estate plan after your divorce, your ex-spouse may have a valid legal claim to most, if not all, of your estate.
How Divorce Impacts Your Estate Plan
When a person dies, the state’s law of intestate succession determines where their property and assets go, and inheritance typically begins with the surviving spouse and children of the deceased. If you have any estate plan, your recent divorce has likely rendered it unenforceable. The purpose of an estate plan is to allow you to dictate what happens to your property after your death. However, property division is a major component of a divorce in the state, and your financial situation after divorce is likely very different from your circumstances when you created the estate plan.
In a Wichita divorce, the spouses must resolve property division under the equitable distribution standard. While the exact outcome of this aspect of your divorce hinges on various unique factors, the final outcome is likely to entail losing some property. Some divorcing spouses effectively “trade” assets to ensure each receives an equivalent share of their marital property, and others will liquidate some assets to divide the proceeds evenly. As a result, some of the assets listed in your old estate plan may no longer be within your control, and you could have new concerns that were not addressed in the old plan.
A properly constructed estate plan can nominate a personal representative to act on your behalf after your death or after you become incapacitated. However, if you are now divorced, and your ex-spouse is listed as your personal representative and/or the primary beneficiary of your estate, this can easily create serious friction within your family. This is just one example of why it is crucial to adjust your estate plan to reflect your new circumstances as soon as possible after your divorce.
Benefits of Hiring Legal Counsel for Estate Planning
While you might assume you can create your estate plan on your own, there is no substitute for having an experienced estate planning attorney help you craft this vital document. Your legal team can help you secure all the documentation that must be reviewed to craft your plan, clarify any state laws that pertain to your estate plans, and explain all your options for customizing your estate plan so you can make more informed decisions.
Your estate plan will inevitably need to change after any major life event, especially one as impactful as a divorce. For example, any divorce in Wichita can entail complex property division, long-term spousal support terms, and various strict requirements regarding child custody and child support for the parents. When you take all of the effects of your divorce into account, you may quickly realize you can no longer count on your previous estate plan, and the right attorney can help you feel more at ease in this daunting situation.
Q: What Does an Estate Plan Need to Include in Kansas?
A: At a minimum, an estate plan should include your last will and testament to convey your final wishes to your family and outline your preferences for the distribution of your property. It’s possible to customize your estate plan even further by arranging a durable power of attorney so a trusted representative can make decisions on your behalf if necessary, an advanced care directive that explains your preferences for end-of-life medical treatment, or a trust that may help your family avoid some inheritance taxes.
Q: How Soon Should I Change My Estate Plan After a Divorce in Wichita?
A: Life can be unpredictable, and an estate plan can only provide peace of mind if you are certain it is legally enforceable. While you may have many pressing concerns following your divorce, it is typically best to consult an estate planning attorney you can trust as soon as possible. If anything happens to you before you change your estate plan, your family may not have any legally enforceable estate plan to which they can refer during probate.
Q: What Happens If an Estate Plan Isn’t Enforceable?
A: In the event that a person dies without an estate plan in place or if their estate plan is rendered unenforceable, their family will face probate. This is a notoriously tedious and time-consuming process that requires identifying, classifying, and appraising the decedent’s property, calculating their outstanding debts, repaying creditors, and distributing remaining assets to their surviving beneficiaries.
Q: Should I Hire an Estate Planning Attorney After Divorce in Kansas?
A: It is always best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney if you want to be certain that your estate plan is legally enforceable, protecting your family in the manner you intend. While you may be able to develop the framework of your estate plan on your own, you should only consider this a preliminary step, and it’s important to find an attorney you can trust to help you refine your proposed estate plan into a legally enforceable document.
Divorce is a major upheaval to your life in many ways, and resolving estate planning issues as soon as possible after completing dissolution can offer valuable reassurance during a very challenging time. Consult an experienced Wichita family lawyer if you are preparing to divorce and have concerns about your estate plan.