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What Everyone Forgets

 

When moving into a new home you should always check the smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. You just bought a new house so it makes sense to ensure it doesn’t burn down. But after a divorce many people fail to take the next steps necessary to protect their newly awarded separate property.

Despite all the planning required when moving into a new home, people regularly move into a new life as a single person without the necessary planning to ensure that their affairs are taken care of if they become incapacitated and their loved ones and property are protected from creditors and predators.

Every adult needs some kind of estate plan, even if nothing more than an Advance Healthcare Directive. Yet it becomes even more pressing when one is newly divorced. After a divorce, our Estate Planning attorney will review assets to ensure that title has been updated and is held properly, that account beneficiaries reflect the newly-single person’s wishes, and that children are protected from future step-parents.

I often get sad calls from people who learn their step-parent is getting what was supposed to be their inheritance. Why? Because their parent didn’t plan – they simply put it off for “later” and the surviving step-parent spends or inherits everything.

If a divorced party should unexpectedly die before creating a new estate plan, the ex-spouse might receive control of assets that had been intended for the children. While the surviving parent might have the children’s best interests at heart, their new spouse may not. Make certain that the legacy intended for the children does not end up in the pockets of your ex and their new love-interest.

The great thing about Estate Planning is, if you’re still fortunate enough to be reading about it or thinking about it, it’s not too late to act on it. Don’t leave your loved ones in the position of having to call my office to ask if we can “fix” things. Attend to your estate now, and leave your loved ones the best legacy possible. A legacy you plan, not the default which will enrich tax collectors, bill collectors, and surely divide families as they fight over what they think you would have wanted.

Remember, we host a Free Family Law and Divorce Workshop on the second Saturday of every month. Our next workshop is Saturday, June 9 from 10AM to 12PM. Call (818) 348-6700 to RSVP.


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