Estate Planning After a Divorce

While all relationships do not end amicably, divorced or divorcing parents of minor children should put aside their differences in order to plan for their children’s future. There are several key issues that should be considered before or during a divorce: guardianship, financial inheritance, and remarriage.

Guardianship is an important issue that parents should discuss with great care. When you die, guardianship of your minor children will pass to their surviving biological parent. This is true even if you had full custody of the child, unless a court finds that the surviving parent is unfit to care for the child. You and your ex should discuss and provide for the appointment of alternate guardians. Doing so will make you and your children feel more secure about the future.

Your will should provide that your children’s share of your estate is held in trust. You will need to appoint a trustee who will be responsible for maintaining the trust assets, as well as making distributions to the guardian for the benefit of your child. It is important to remember that the trustee and guardian will have to work together on a regular basis. If you and your ex can agree on a trustee with whom you are both comfortable, it will make the process easier on all of the involved parties.

Remarriage inevitably affects your financial situation. It is important to remember that if you don’t make provisions for your children in your estate plan, your assets may end up going entirely to your new spouse when you die. This can be easily avoided. If your first spouse was the designated beneficiary of your 401(k), pension, life insurance policies or retirement plans, you should also remember to change the beneficiary designations, or your ex may end up with a considerable part of your assets, and your new spouse will be left out.

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