Getting Your Affairs in Order, Beforehand
Estate planning matters are often overlooked in divorce, but divorce will have significant implications for your estate. Once your marital status is legally changed, your spouse will no longer be the beneficiary of your estate. Your ex can remain a beneficiary, but you need to update your estate documents to express that specific intent. Without clear directives, your estate could end up in probate, which can be a burden on your survivors. While planning for your estate may be the last thing on your mind when more immediate issues are at hand, it is a good idea to make adjustments as soon as you can.
There are several estate planning issues you should think about during divorce. Consider updating your beneficiary designations. The divorce will not affect these designations, so you may want to adjust them accordingly. It is important to know that while your ex-spouse will no longer be listed as a beneficiary of your estate, he or she may retain the right to any IRAs, ERISA governed employee retirement plans, or life insurance policies upon your death. You must name new beneficiaries if you no longer want your spouse to receive these funds. Also, consider creating a family trust. This can provide future protections for your children’s inheritances.
It is also very important to update your healthcare proxy. You do not have to make any changes if you wish your ex-spouse to retain the medical power of attorney, but many people choose to name a new agent.
Keep in mind; Massachusetts estate law varies based on whether or not you have a will. If you do not have a will, now might be a good time to execute one. If you have significant assets or specific wishes for the management of your estate, having a will is the best thing you can do for your family. If you do have one, make sure you speak with a lawyer to ensure your estate will be in the right hands when you die. Your mediator or attorney may be able to refer you to a trusted estate-planning lawyer.
If you have concerns about your estate and preserving your assets for your children, speak with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator. A mediator can help you reach an agreement with your spouse on the present division of your assets and the future disbursement of your estate.
If you have questions about how to plan your estate during divorce, contact Mediation Advantage Services for experienced family law help. Law Office of Polly Tatum can assist you with taking care of your estate planning needs. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 466-4679, fill out our online form, today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.