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Divorce prompts the need for estate planning adjustments

Many New Jersey residents who have created a solid estate plan feel a significant sense of relief in the knowledge that their wishes are documented in a legal format. However, there are certain life events that necessitate a re evaluation of existing estate planning measures. The end of a marriage is one of the most significant changes that can prompt the need to take a second look at one's plan, and to make changes where needed.

Many traditional estate plans are designed to guide the division of marital wealth in the event of the death of one or both spouses. However, when a divorce takes place, the manner in which both parties wish their assets to be passed down will often change. The best way to accomplish this goal is for both spouses to create a new estate planning package.

Some financial issues will be handled through the property division portion of a divorce. However, if a spouse does not make changes to an existing will, his or her death could benefit the former spouse. When a will lists a former spouse, stepchildren or in-laws, the matter of who gets what is often brought before a court. This is costly and stressful to those left behind and is an outcome that can easily be avoided with the proper level of planning.

New Jersey spouses who are going through a divorce should set aside the time needed to go through their existing estate planning package and ensure that the provisions outlined within are still in line with one's wishes. Making changes to a will is often a top priority, but it is also important to consider changing the beneficiaries listed on life insurance and other accounts. Finally, the individuals who are listed within the new will should be either given copies or instructed on where to find these documents when the time comes.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "After Divorce, Separate Your Estate Plans Too", Liz Moyer, Feb. 20, 2015

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