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Wills and other estate plan changes required in divorce

Anyone in New York who is in the throes of divorce might be so overwhelmed by all the matters that need consideration and the many decisions that need to be made, that some crucial issues might be forgotten. However, reviewing estate plans must not be overlooked. The laws related to wills and divorce differ from state to state, but even if a spouse is automatically removed after a divorce, what happens if death should occur in the time leading up to the final divorce settlement? The surviving spouse will have legal rights to the estate if this should happen.

The wills of married couples usually designate the role of executor to the surviving spouse, and he or she is typically also the estate's primary beneficiary. However, when a couple separates, the intent and desires of each spouse will likely change because the circumstances under which the original estate planning was created have changed. A will might have a spouse's children from a previous marriage as beneficiaries, and if a new document is not drafted, those provisions will stay in place.

Along with drafting a new will, it might be wise also to establish new documents for powers of attorney. No one would like to have an ex-spouse in charge of financial and medical decisions if he or she should become incapacitated. Another estate planning issue to address involves revocable trusts. They can be dissolved, or the terms could be modified. If a couple chooses to terminate the trust, the assets will be divided and recorded as part of the divorce documents for tax purposes.

Drafting brand new wills might be the most effective manner for both spouses to address estate planning in the event of a divorce. An experienced New York estate planning attorney can provide support and guidance to ensure the necessary changes are made. This is the time to take the opportunity to create plans to suit one's future as a single person.

Source: investopedia.com, "Don't Overlook Your Estate Plan During a Divorce", Todd Wilhoit, Accessed on April 27

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