Divorce & Estate Planning

There may be a general misconception that it is a single document for those who have not begun building an estate plan. In fact, it is a collection of documents that can work for you in various ways. Each one is a tool that has the potential to either protect your assets, protect you, or pass assets to your designated beneficiaries (or both). 

Another common error is to think of estate planning as a single event. Estate planning is something you do throughout your life. The bulk of the work will likely be done during the initial stages, but you need to amend, adapt, and adjust your plan as your life changes.

For example, divorce can drastically alter your life, and it will change your plans for the future. If you created an estate plan with your spouse (and are getting a divorce), you must revisit it. The same applies if you choose to get remarried or have more children.

The Protections In New York

In New York, there are laws to protect people who do not update their estate plans after a divorce. People who update their estate plans after a divorce usually disinherit their former spouse. However, specific laws in New York essentially do this for you when there is an official divorce decree.

Does that mean you shouldn’t meet with your estate planning attorney? You still should because some estate plans state that your spouse still holds onto their beneficiary designation after a divorce.   

Other Elements Of An Estate Plan

When you create an estate plan, you will likely take the time to choose executors (wills), trustees (trusts), powers of attorney, and health care proxies. These positions have varying degrees of power, and it is paramount that you have someone you can rely on holding them. If you went through a bitter divorce, you likely don’t want your former spouse as your power of attorney. A divorce decree revokes these. 

If you are married, have real estate, and pass away, your spouse inherits it. You and your spouse only have half-interest in the property by receiving a divorce decree. If you pass away, your former spouse does not own the property in its entirety. 

Andrea L. Gamalski Attorney & Counselor at Law

Although some of the laws in New York do alter your estate plan after you are divorced, they do not do everything. Their purpose is basic protection rather than an all-encompassing solution. After a divorce—or any significant life event—meet with your estate planning attorney. If you want to create or modify an estate plan, contact  Andrea L. Gamalski, Attorney & Counselor at Law, to schedule a free consultation

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Andrea L. Gamalski Attorneys at Law

Andrea L. Gamalski understands how important it is to have a compassionate and empathetic family law attorney who fights hard for their clients in the courtroom–mainly because she’s been one of these clients herself.

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