During a divorce, things like last wills and testaments, trusts, and powers of attorney may be a distant thought. Moving through the family court is understandably the top priority. But at some point, estate planning should be considered or revisited. The goals after a divorce are no different than any other situation. But certain items might need particular attention. It will be important to review the result in the family court and understand what is and isn’t accounted for.
There are a number of moving parts in this context. They include your particular divorce result, changed family dynamics, and prior estate planning, among other items. South Carolina law will also be in play. The divorce proceeding might address how assets like real estate and accounts get retitled. It might not or it might fail to address everything. If a will was executed during the marriage or some time prior to it, South Carolina statutes might alter some provisions as a result of the divorce. How assets get distributed is not the only important item. Things like nominations for personal representative, guardians, and trustees are significant portions of your will. If you have no will, there is now a different intestacy result. Children or other family members might take more or all of your estate.
If a revocable trust was created during the marriage, it may need to be amended to reflect the divorce. If a power of attorney makes the ex-spouse an agent, it likely needs to be updated to ensure it can be used properly. Another big consideration is any policies or accounts that list the ex-spouse as a beneficiary. Even where the divorce will automatically alter your plan, not making updates can lead to confusion and headache at the worst time.
Divorce can lead to many uncertainties. Your estate plan doesn’t need to be one of them. In fact, it presents a clean slate to put your affairs in order. There also isn’t one great solution that works for everybody. What you need depends on where you are and where you want to be. A thorough meeting with an estate planning attorney is a good way to get started.
Have a list of your assets when you meet with a wills and estates lawyer. Also bring the family court orders to aid the meeting. Any wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or other documents should be reviewed. You can discuss particular concerns with your attorney and decide how to handle them. The end goal is to have a clean and clear plan in place that removes the uncertainty associated with divorce.