During divorce, many people worry about their children and their finances. However, many people fail to prepare for their illness or death before the divorce is finalized. There are 4 questions that everyone going through a divorce should be considering, but rarely do:
- What happens if I die before my divorce is final?
- How can I protect my children?
- How can I protect myself?
- How can I make sure that my share of the property goes to the people that I want it to go to, rather than my future ex-spouse?
Most people do not realize that if they unable to make their own health care and/or financial decisions because of incapacity, their future ex-spouse will get to decide. So executing or updating your Durable Power of Attorney documents is important.
Many people also fail to understand that if they should die during the divorce process without properly planning for it, their future ex-spouse will inherit their community property portion of your estate because he or she is still technically your spouse until the divorce decree is final.
Additionally, if you have a Will prepared during the marriage where you named your spouse as the beneficiary, and the divorce is not finalized, then your future ex-spouse will certainly inherit everything they are entitled to under the Will and, as in most marital Wills, if you nominated your future ex-spouse to serve as your personal representative but fail to amend the court may have no other choice to allow him or her to serve in this role and administer your estate. One can only image how difficult it may be for your family, friends, heirs and beneficiaries to communicate with and get along with your future ex-spouse but, more importantly, having your future ex-spouse administering your assets it may make it difficult for your children or other heirs to get the property distribution that you intended.
It is worthwhile to immediately change your will, even if it is temporary. Doing so immediately upon separation or filing for divorce will allow you to maintain control and allow you to determine who should receive your estate in the event you become ill or do not live through the divorce proceeding.