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Getting Married or Divorced? Estate Planning Moves to Make Now

Marriage and divorce are two significant milestones, each bringing its own set of emotions, challenges, and adjustments. While marriage is typically celebrated as an act of love and commitment and, divorce is usually accompanied by loss and regret, in both cases, the practical impact on estate planning should not be overlooked. For residents of Southeastern Massachusetts, either is a time to turn to Surprenant & Beneski, P.C.

Getting Married: Estate Planning for Two

Getting married is a deeply meaningful step. In the long run, creating or updating your estate plan will be more significant than choosing the wedding menu or flowers. This is why it pays to contact a knowledgeable attorney who will help you do the following promptly and carefully. 

Updating Beneficiary Designations

Marriage often requires a reassessment of beneficiaries on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and investment accounts. Make sure your new spouse is listed as your primary beneficiary.

Establishing Joint Ownership

Consider consolidating assets and properties into joint ownership to streamline management and facilitate a smoother transfer of assets in the event of incapacity or death. Joint ownership will simplify probate proceedings and provide added security for both spouses.

Drafting or Updating Wills

Marriage warrants a review of existing wills or the creation of new ones to reflect your spouse’s inclusion in your estate plan. Clearly outline how assets should be distributed upon death, including provisions for your spouse and any children from previous relationships.

Appointing Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy

In the vast majority of cases, spouses want to designate one another as their agents for financial and healthcare decisions in the event of incapacity. Our estate planning lawyers will make certain these documents are crafted not only to name your spouse to assume this role, but to provide clear instructions for your spouse to follow.

Discussing Long-Term Care Planning

Once married, spouses should discuss their feelings about long-term care and end-of-life preferences with one another and with their trusted estate planning attorney. Each of our lawyers is well-prepared to put you and your spouse at ease as you express your preferences in regard to long-term care insurance and advance directives so that we can draft exacting documents to reflect your wishes.

Getting Divorced: Disentangling and Revising

In most situations, joining together in marriage is much easier than pulling apart in divorce, in good part because in the latter cases, the two spouses are far less likely to be working cooperatively. Our attorneys are extremely familiar with the process of separating assets, and taking the following steps to update your estate plan: 

Revoking Spousal Designations

When you divorce, it’s crucial to update beneficiary designations so that your former spouse doesn’t inherit your life insurance policies, investment accounts, or your retirement accounts in full. We will help you review and amend beneficiary designations on all relevant accounts to reflect your changed circumstances and intentions.

Revising Wills and Trusts

Divorce necessitates a thorough review and revision of existing wills and trusts to remove references to your former spouse and adjust asset distribution accordingly. 

Updating Powers of Attorney

Revoke any powers of attorney granted to your ex-spouse and appoint new agents for financial and healthcare decisions. It’s essential to update these documents promptly to avoid confusion or unintended consequences if you become incapacitated.

Addressing Jointly Owned Assets

The divorce agreement should cover how jointly owned assets will be divided or transferred. It is critical that such assets are divided fairly according to the divorce agreement or court order.

Reviewing Estate Planning Goals

Divorce is an opportunity to reassess your estate planning goals and priorities. We will assist you in addressing any changes in your financial circumstances, family dynamics, or personal preferences that may impact your estate plan, whether associated with the divorce or not. 

The Takeaway

Our highly skilled estate planning attorneys have successfully served the community for many years, seeing our clients through challenging, blessed, and tragic events. We are acutely aware of the importance of aligning estate plans with life changes. Whether you’re preparing to tie the knot or navigate the turbulence of divorce, we will work hard to ensure that your estate plan continues to accurately reflect your wishes and priorities. Contact us for a consultation today.