What to do With Your Estate Plan During Divorce

Picture on two people sitting down facing each other with a document and their wedding rings, as if they were in a meeting for divorce for our blog "What to do with your estate plan after divorce"

Divorce can be an overwhelming time. Families change, new lives begin, but during this time, it is good to remember that your estate plan should change too.  A few changes you may consider during and after a divorce are your beneficiary designations, beneficiaries of your will or trust, successor trustees of your trust,  personal representatives of your will, and your nominated attorneys-in-fact of your health care powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney.

Nevada law has proactively addressed the fallout out from a final divorce, but during the pendency of a divorce, there is a risk that the ultimate disposition would go to your future ex-spouse.  In order to avoid this undesirable outcome, there are several components that need to be reviewed.

Beneficiary Designations

A beneficiary designation is the formal designation of the desired recipient or beneficiary of certain assets such as life insurance policies, employer retirement plans, IRAs, and other retirement accounts.  These assets are not controlled by a will or trust.  If these are not reviewed during the pendency of the divorce, then Nevada law will deem your ex-spouse to have predeceased you, which will mean that the contingent beneficiary will be the beneficiary.  However, it is prudent to address these during the pendency of the divorce in case anything happens to you prior to the finalization of the divorce.

Jointly Titled Assets

It is imperative that the assets be divided early in a divorce for a variety of reasons, but the ownership and ability to allocate the distribution upon your death are as important as any.  Nevada law again makes these distinctions when the divorce is finalized, but the sooner the jointly held property can be addressed in a divorce the better for both parties.

Health Care Powers of Attorney

A health care power of attorney allows you to nominate an individual to execute and carry out the medical decisions that you are no longer legally able to make.  It is important that you complete these directives prior to an event after which you are not able to make those decisions, but if something happens during the pendency of a divorce, it is a potential scenario that your future ex-spouse will carry out those decisions.  In most cases, it is recommended that those going through a divorce nominate a parent, sibling, close friend, or a child who is over the age of 18.

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney are those individuals nominated to provide for your financial care if you are not able to make those decisions yourself.  This person will have the authority to buy and sell your real estate, open and close financial accounts, change beneficiaries, collect government benefits, and more. Be sure to speak with our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys to ensure protection over your financial affairs during the pendency of your divorce.

Will or Living Trust

Updating your will or living trust during the pendency of your divorce will help eliminate the potential for confusion or an outcome that ultimately is undesirable.  Once the divorce is final,  then your former spouse will have no legal claim on your property.

Guardianship for Minor Children

You and your soon to be ex-spouse should also consider who will care for your children in the event that both of you are not able to.  If one parent passes, more times than not the child will stay under the care of the living parent; however, if both of you were to pass, there must be a plan established as the children must continue to take precedence so that they are always protected and well cared for in any event.

You will need an experienced attorney to guide you through updating your estate plan you once had with your ex-spouse, either during the pendency of your divorce or afterward.  It is vital to get this done sooner rather than later in case anything happens. Doing so will keep you, your family, and your assets protected. Give us a call at 775.882.8032 to schedule your consultation or schedule with us online.