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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

An Estate Planning Lawyer’s Advice When Divorcing in Sacramento, CA

July 8, 2015

When getting a divorce, it seems like there’s no end to the paperwork.  One task that is far too often overlooked by those in the Sacramento area is making an appointment with their estate planning lawyer.  Whether you already put together an estate plan with your ex-spouse or you’ve never gotten that far, now is the time to sit down and make necessary decisions.

For those who already created an estate plan, the most urgent need is to make changes regarding beneficiaries and powers of attorney.  If you’ve listed your spouse as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy, for example, he or she may still inherit from you upon your death.  Even if you’ve been divorced for 20 years, the name you put on the beneficiary line can still be enough to funnel payouts to that person.

Life insurance policies aren’t the only place you may have your ex listed as a beneficiary, either.  Your Sacramento will and trust lawyer will help you review a variety of accounts, funds, wills, etc. to make sure that you change beneficiaries to someone more in line with your new life.  Keep in mind, too, that if your soon-to-be ex is named as your healthcare proxy or has power of attorney, he or she may be put in the role of making your medical and/or financial decisions should you become incapacitated.  That bit of information right there is often enough to send people running to their estate planning lawyer’s office!

Additional considerations need to be made if you have children.  Inheritance put aside for your minor children could actually end up with your ex in charge of managing those funds for the children until they turn 18.  Instead, Sacramento will and trust lawyers will often recommend that you form a trust that will benefit the children but that is overseen by a person of your choosing.

Things can get even more troubling if your ex-spouse remarries.  Should you not change beneficiaries and the ex inherits your assets, you would hope he or she would pass them on to the children you share.  HOWEVER, if the ex should die before the new spouse, all of those assets (the ones that used to be yours) can go directly to the new spouse.  This cuts your children entirely out of inheriting from you.  In fact, if the new spouse has children, YOUR assets could go to them instead of yours!

The unfortunate fact is that by the time you’ve gone through a divorce, you may feel like you never want to see another attorney again.  Still, you want to protect yourself and your heirs by following through with a good Sacramento will lawyer.  At least you will know that this person is absolutely looking out for you!

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My wife and I have some quite large complexities both in our individual preferences and the construct of our life. When planning for our trust, Heather took the time to hear EVERYTHING we said. The trust which Heather formed for our family took all our concerns into account. When everything was said and done, we received a trust which, by design, is extremely personal to our circumstance. We also are delighted to have Heather to be part of our team of advocates to help when the time comes.

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