Creating an estate plan is an important task when thinking about the future. However, there are often mistakes that can be made if these documents are created without the assistance of an estate planning attorney. Some of these most common errors include unintentionally leaving assets to former partners or spouses after divorce or separation. There are ways to avoid these common estate planning mistakes and ensure ex-spouses are not inheriting the other person’s money. Below is advice on how to make sure assets are untangled from an estate planning perspective after a divorce—along with how professionals can assist in creating an estate plan that works for each person and their situation.
Mistakes that Allow Ex-Spouses to Inherit from an Estate Plan
Most individuals do not intend to leave their former spouses any of their assets when they pass away. However, many people are unintentionally doing so by not changing their estate plans after their divorce. People who do their research may recognize that state laws, including Texas, usually say that former spouses lose all property rights to each other’s assets. But since pensions and retirement funds are governed by federal law, these state laws may not apply.
Because of this, individuals should take their former spouses off the beneficiary list of their pension. If they do not do so, their spouse may still be able to receive these retirement benefits after their ex-spouse passes away. When changing the named beneficiaries, people should think about other loved ones in their lives who they wish to receive their pension if they were to pass away.
It is also important to remember after a divorce to update bank account beneficiaries, along with powers of attorney. Otherwise, ex-spouses may be in charge of the individual’s medical and financial choices if they are unable to make them themselves.
Other Estate Planning Areas to Focus on After a Divorce
After a divorce, there are other aspects individuals should focus on—both together and separately. First off, they must decide what to do with their jointly owned property and how to divide their entangled assets. Especially for couples that were together for a long time, this may be difficult. However, going through this process as amicably as possible will make the future less contentious.
Couples that have young children may also need to update or adopt documents for guardians of their children in the case that neither parent is able to care for the child.
Because estate planning attorneys are experts at updating estate plans after a divorce, individuals going through this process should reach out to an experienced attorney in their area.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one has questions about their estate plan after their divorce, contact the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Divorces can be difficult for many reasons. Do not stress about the estate planning impacts of your divorce—call us instead to help. We have decades of experience assisting individuals with the estate planning process and are here to help with any potential estate planning mistakes that may arise. To speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys and to schedule a free, initial consultation, contact us today at 713-333-8900.