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No one likes to contemplate divorce. Unfortunately, the reality is that 40% to 50% of marriages will end in divorce. This raises issues that should be addressed by couples considering dissolving their union. Jeff, and his wife, Sue, were in the process of divorcing when Jeff unexpectedly passed away. The divorce was contentious, to say the least, and had not yet been finalized. Jeff’s siblings wanted an autopsy done to confirm his cause of death. Sue, still legally his wife, had all the control and opted to have Jeff cremated immediately. As a result, there was no closure for the family and all of Jeff’s assets passed to Sue since there was no estate plan in place.
This scenario can be avoided if you implement an estate plan (if you don’t already have one) or update an existing plan. Most married couples name each other as executor or trustee and as the primary beneficiary of their estate plans. When contemplating ending your marriage, consider updating these very important roles, as well.
If a person dies without a will (intestate), many state laws provide that all assets pass to the surviving spouse. Most states consider a couple legally married until a judge has signed a final judgment of dissolution. This means that in many states, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will still have control over your money, property and person, should something happen to you.
When considering divorce, couples should immediately review their estate plan along with all other aspects of their soon to be separate lives. This would certainly have helped Jeff’s siblings avoid unnecessary turmoil.
Seek the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney to guide you through the preparation of a will and related estate planning documents. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call our office at (407) 977-8080.
The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan assists families in the protection of their loved ones by focusing their practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration, Elder Law including Medicaid and VA Planning and Special Needs Planning, Pet Planning, Business Succession Planning and Real Estate. The founders, Peggy Hoyt and Randy Bryan, are both dual board certified by the Florida Bar in Wills, Trusts and Estates as well as Elder Law. Hoyt & Bryan is the only law firm in Florida with the distinction of two attorneys with these certifications. We offer many complimentary educational workshops each week in our Learning Center at The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan and monthly workshops in the Auditorium of One Senior Place in Altamonte Springs. For more information please contact our office at 407-977-8080 or visit our website HoytBryan.com.
About the Author: Peggy Hoyt Peggy R. Hoyt practices in the areas of family wealth and legacy counselling, including trust and estate planning and administration, elder law, small business creation, succession and exit planning, real estate transactions and animal law.