Getting divorced? Don’t forget to update your estate plans!

No one gets married expecting to get divorced … but it happens  to about half of all first marriages*.​  And, if divorcing, the marriage only lasts an average of about eight years.  ​Then, about 60% of divorced people remarry.  Well … that makes it possible for several people to have some degree of claim over each other’s estates and for a variety of different claims by children of each of these marriages.

What could happen?  Well, according to stories we have heard, just about anything!  Here is one extreme example … in 1980, Peter Sellers (actor, Pink Panther) died of a heart attack.  He was in the middle of divorcing his fourth wife (Lynne Frederick), but he had not quite gotten around to changing his will.  He allegedly wanted to leave his estate to his kids … but, he didn’t actually change the will.  The entire estate went to the almost divorced wife, and a mere token (nothing) to the kids.  The difference was something like $6 million.

Is there anything YOU want to change now?

We suggest that divorcing couples separately change a number of aspects of their estate plans (see below).  Ask your divorce attorney to suggest an estate planning attorney to help you do this.  Don’t leave it to an on-line system that can’t account for your real needs.  If you would prefer, just give us a call, and we will help you get peace of mind with this part of the pain of divorce.

Here is the list we suggest:

  • Change Last Will and Testament – don’t write on it!
  • Change or revoke recorded Financial Powers of Attorney that you might have given to each other
  • Change Health Care documents and HIPAA authorizations
  • Change beneficiary designations for life insurance and bank accounts
  • Change guardians of minor children, if named
  • Change trustees of trusts, including special needs trusts
  • Retitle assets if Trusts have been affected
  • Monitor business income for changes and revise payments or succession plans as necessary
Each situation is different, but we will help you through what you need.
* Information obtained in part from: Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States. Series Report 23, Number 22. 103pp. (PHS) 98-1998​

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