Getting married means that you have someone else to assume responsibility for, which often lends itself to estate planning. After all, when you have family members and loved ones who could benefit from your assets, you have more of an interest in ensuring that those assets smoothly transition to someone else’s ownership when you die.
You don’t want your family to have to struggle financially while the assets you acquire during your life slowly wind their way through probate court. Instead, you want them to have the comfort that comes from knowing that their financial issues are more or less addressed as part of your estate plan.
Usually, your spouse and your children will play important roles in an estate plan or a trust. However, once you initiate divorce proceedings, you may need to seriously reconsider the way that you structured your trust.
Consider removing your ex as beneficiary and trustee
Most people remember to remove their ex from any paperwork that would grant them beneficiary rights as an heir, such as a last will. If you go through the process of separating your life and finances from that of your spouse’s, you probably don’t intend to leave them a significant inheritance. Making sure that they are no longer listed as a beneficiary in trust documents is as important as checking the last will.
If your children remain the beneficiaries of the trust, you may consider keeping your ex on as trustee, provided you have a positive relationship and can trust that they will not use those funds for their own benefit if anything happens to you. Changing or completely rewriting your trust can help ensure that it survives your divorce intact.
In many cases, it is far wiser to name someone other than the parent who will assume custodial authority at the time of your death as trustee. That helps to ensure that the person handling the funds will have the best interests of you and the beneficiaries in mind, not the potential for their own enrichment.
Consider changing your estate plan to include a trust if it doesn’t already
Simply leaving your assets to your children is a straightforward way to make sure they get the assets you want them to have. However, a direct inheritance through a last will could also leave your estate vulnerable if you pass away when your children are still minors.
Creating a trust ensures that those funds remain in place for your children in the future, regardless of what happens to you. A trust would protect the funds for use only in specific circumstances or by your children themselves when they reach adulthood.
Sitting down to talk with an experienced Connecticut estate attorney can help you adjust your trust or create a new one in light of your recent divorce.