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The divorce-estate planning link: be mindful of it

Kudos to any couple that has the foresight to execute a well-considered estate plan during marriage, especially married partners with children. Despite their best intentions, many spouses don’t get around to crafting a strategy that addresses life’s core concerns and safeguards against the downsides.

Sound and timely estate administration protects assets, helps ensure their future distribution and lawfully minimizes tax outlays. It also designates trusted parties to act on behalf of planners concerning key financial and health matters during periods of incapacity or upon death. Among other things, such appointments grant powers of attorney to responsible third parties over money matters, end-of-life considerations and crucial issues concerning children’s best interests.

Divorce can complicate all that.

A recent Forbes article on the strong need that most divorcing parties have to revisit and adjust estate plans notes that marital dissolution commonly implicates many important estate administration concerns.

Here’s one, for example: the potential for unanticipated – and unwelcome – results to occur if appointees with designated powers are not replaced following a marriage breakup. Just imagine a situation where an ex-spouse from an acrimonious split continues to exercise power of attorney prerogatives over a former partner’s financial and health matters. What might happen if an ex with a demonstrated history of family violence or substance abuse is not sought to be replaced by a more responsible party as guardian for the children?

The central point Forbes seeks to convey is that divorce typically gives rise to the need for estate planning readjustments, often across a broad front. Existing planning documents that once commanded iron-clad validity often become problematic – even wholly inapplicable – in the wake of a decoupling.

An experienced estate administration attorney intimately knows that and routinely helps valued clients update key documents that accurately and safely address new post-divorce realities.

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