When people get divorced, they may have many worries and concerns including their financial prospects for the future and their parenting relationship with their children. The stress and challenges involved in the marital dissolution process often distract parties from real world implications like estate planning issues. When you are involved in a marital dissolution, the divorce can impact almost every component of your estate plan, so it is important to review your estate planning documents and to consult with your estate planning attorney. Our experienced New Mexico Estate Planning Lawyers have provided some examples of estate planning issues that need to be considered when an individual gets divorced.
Beneficiary for Assets in a Will or Living Trust:
It is probably safe to assume that most people would prefer that their assets not be left to a former spouse. A will or living trust may have been set up early in your marriage, so it can be easy to forget to have these documents revised to ensure that your ex-spouse does not inherit the bulk of your estate. If you do not have a will or living trust, this poses a different type of problem during the pendency of your divorce. When a party dies without either of these documents, New Mexico intestacy law and community property law will provide that your spouse inherit a substantial portion of your estate. While the precise amount of the surviving spouse’s inheritance will depend on whether you have children, it is important to recognize that until your marital status is legally terminated your spouse’s right to your assets will not be impacted by a pending divorce.
Health Care Decisions and Access to Insurance Information:
Most married couples appoint their spouse as their agent to make medical decisions in the event of physical or mental incapacity. If you need someone to make decisions about your medical care or to access your health insurance information under a HIPPA authorization, you will probably want to appoint someone other than your former spouse to make these decisions and access such personal information.
Insurance Policy & Retirement Account Beneficiaries:
When you started your 401K or other retirement account or acquired a life insurance policy, there is a fair chance that your spouse was designated as the beneficiary on the policy and/or account. These types of assets are not handled through intestate law, living trust, or will. These assets will have a beneficiary designation that will determine who has a right to benefit from these assets. Even if you have revised your will and trust, these policies or accounts must be updated separately.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.
If you have questions about estate planning in the context of a pending divorce, our New Mexico Estate Planning Attorneys are in a unique position to help because we devote a substantial portion of our practice to the areas of estate planning and family law. The New Mexico Estate Planning Attorneys at Jay Goodman & Associates Group, PC offer a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your specific situation. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.