Can You Change Your Estate Plan During Divorce?

Divorce can be really stressful for so many reasons, not least of which concerns about your estate now that you are likely going to be changing your beneficiary. If you want to remove your spouse as trustee and beneficiary, you are in luck! Pennsylvania makes it much easier than some other states to change your will and estate plans during a divorce, and you should be able to make changes as needed while you are in the process of separating from your former spouse. Make sure that you secure a skilled lawyer to handle this process, however, so that there are no critical errors that are made along the way.

Removing a spouse from the role of trustee or beneficiary is not as hard as you might think and you can tick this box off with ease early in the divorce process.

How Does Divorce Impact Estates in PA?

In Pennsylvania, divorce decrees automatically void spousal provisions that have been made in your estate or your will. You can update and amend these clauses even during your divorce since the divorce will remove them anyhow. If you have this person set up as a beneficiary for your life insurance or retirement funds, you will still need to provide updated information to the entities in question to remove this person from your beneficiary list.

Sometimes when you are working with insurance and other third-party groups that have your spouse listed as a beneficiary, you will need to provide the divorce documentation to finalize the change. It is still worth it to reach out to these groups and make them aware of the situation related to your divorce. Companies of this kind will make note of this change being in the works so that your spouse cannot call them and try to agitate on their own behalf. This is one of the key steps that have to be taken related to all assets that name your ex as a beneficiary just to make sure that there are no excessive complications until they are able to be removed from the beneficiary list.

Make sure that you are aware that the Pennsylvania Uniform Transfers to Minors Law will not allow a minor to exercise their right to the property until they are 18. You will need to ensure that you are not granting these kinds of assets to the people who will be too young to access them unless you are all right with these items being frozen and placed in court-monitored trust. It can be hard to find a suitable replacement trustee and beneficiary when you have been married for some time, but your lawyer can help you to make decisions that will allow your assets to be protected even without your spouse involved in the estate.

Some Other Things to Consider

You will also want to consider a Power of Attorney if you are not sure that your desires will be understood by anyone remaining in your family. Sometimes people’s spouses were the person entrusted with decisions about their well-being as they do not have any next of kin to entrust with this role. A Power of Attorney can help to guide the person tasked with this job in your spouse’s place. A health care directive or a living will can also have a big impact on the way decisions are made if you do not have a spouse to speak on your behalf.

Avoiding intestacy laws is important, but so is your care if something happens that impacts your health and you do not pass away. If you cannot speak for yourself and you do not have children or next of kin to speak for you if you need medical care or financial assistance, you need to have the right documentation in place to guide the person making these decisions for you. Divorcing a spouse can have a lasting impact on all areas of your life, but you can at least protect yourself legally from actions that you would not wish to be taken should you be unable to speak for yourself for some reason.

At Antanavage Farbiarz, our team can offer estate planning services of various kinds for your needs. We can explain all aspects of the estate planning process and help with different kinds of estate and trust plans. We also offer assistance for making donations through wills, trusts, gifts, and other methods as well. If you are ready to discuss your will and estate planning concerns, call us at (610) 562-2000 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.

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