Naperville Lawyer Talks About Estate Planning and Divorce

divorce, Naperville estate planning attorneysMany mental health professionals believe that the emotions that accompany a divorce are often very similar to those associated with the death of a loved one. While no one can reasonably claim that divorce and death are the same, there is little question that a divorce will change your life forever. In fact, the effects of your divorce are likely to be felt for many years after your death, especially if your spouse was set to play a significant role in your intended estate plan.

In my practice as an estate planning lawyer, my clients often ask questions about how their divorce will affect their wills, living trusts, and other estate planning documents. The answers, as you might expect, depend heavily on each person’s unique circumstances, but there are some general principles that apply.

Statutory Considerations

According to Illinois law, if your divorce is finalized and you were to die before restructuring your estate plan, your spouse will be presumed to have died before you for the purposes of most estate planning documents. For example, if you named your spouse the executor of your estate, he or she will not be expected to fulfill those duties if your divorce was completed. The state will handle your estate as if your spouse died first, eliminating not only his or her responsibilities but his or her inheritance rights as well. The same holds true for provisions in most trusts, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives.

Ongoing Divorce

While the law provides a measure of protection for individuals who have completed the divorce process, it does not apply to those currently in the midst of a divorce. Until a divorce judgment is entered, you are still legally married. This means that if something happens to you in the meantime, all of the provisions of your current estate plan will remain in force. As you prepare your divorce filing, you may wish to discuss updating your estate plan with a qualified attorney.

Other Concerns

You must remember that the law regarding your spouse in your estate plan only refers to certain documents and estate planning instruments. It does not address investment accounts, retirement plans, or life insurance policies which require you to specify beneficiaries. Each of these will need to be changed individually, which, in most cases, is fairly easy to do.

Let Us Help

If you are going through a divorce, there are many considerations that must be made, and estate planning can be easily overlooked. An experienced Naperville estate planning lawyer can help you be prepared as you look to begin a new chapter in your life. Call The Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation today.

 

Sources:

Grief and Sympathy

Illinois Probate Act of 1975

Illinois Power of Attorney Act