You find yourself single again – perhaps through a divorce or the death of your spouse. You are now, for the first time in many years “flying solo”
This is a difficult time emotionally. You may be weary of court proceedings and legal matters – however, you must give attention to estate planning matters.
Your single status affects:
∙ Your real estate. You now own your property alone. There are inheritance issues which much be addressed – you no longer have the protection of joint with the right of survivorship.
∙ Your will. If you have an existing Will, it needs to be changed. This is especially true if you are divorced. You will now need to specify new primary beneficiaries of your estate and name new personal representatives. If you never had a Will, it is particularly important to establish one now – there is no joint ownership now. Who will be your heirs?
∙ Your trust . As with your Will, you must change your trust after a divorce to reflect your single status and specify beneficiaries and successor trustee(s). If you are recently widowed, you need to sit down examine what the status of all provisions in the trust are, which need to be changed, which can be changed.
∙ Guardianship designations. You should designate your preference for guardian and conservator for your children if you are incapacitated or die.
∙ Your Powers of Attorney. You will need to designate new agents under your Durable Power of Attorney (for legal affairs) and under your Designation of Patient Advocate (Durable Power for Health Care.
It is important for you to sit down with an Estate Planning Attorney and address these important issues which affect you today and tomorrow.
Without your input:
∙ your estate would be distributed according to the laws of Michigan.
∙ your estate could be administered by the person the court selects.
∙ the court will appoint a guardian for your minor children.
∙ your incapacity could result in a Guardian or Conservator being appointed.
You owe it to yourself to find out what impact your divorce has had on your estate planning matters and how you can plan for the future. If you are suddenly single due to a death, it is critical that you plan for your new future.