If you, a family member, or a friend is going through a divorce, please don't wait until the divorce is final to update your estate plan.
When you are in the midst of a divorce, you are likely focused on how your property will be distributed between you and your spouse at the end of your divorce. However, you should also be thinking about your estate plan and the disposition of your assets upon your passing. On the remote chance that you pass prior to your divorce being finalized or soon after the divorce is final, your ex-spouse may stand to inherit everything.
If you had an estate plan prepared while you were married, it is likely that your spouse is designated in your will as the primary beneficiary of your estate. In addition, you might have also given your spouse power of attorney over your property and/or given them the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf. Your will, power of attorney and health care proxy should all be changed to reflect your current wishes. It is important to keep in mind that under New York law, you cannot completely disinherit your future ex-spouse while you are married. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to minimize what he or she is entitled to during the divorce process.
If you have not done any estate planning, then upon your death, the distribution of your estate will be governed by New York’s laws of intestacy. Under intestacy, your surviving spouse will receive your entire estate if there are no children involved. If there are children, your surviving spouse will receive the first $50,000 plus half of the residuary of your estate. With proper planning, this amount can be significantly reduced.
Going through a divorce is difficult enough regardless of the circumstances. At the Law Offices of Steven M. Adler, we are sensitive to the challenges our clients face when they are going through this overwhelming time in their life. We are here to walk you through the steps you should take to ensure that your property is protected and that the desired individuals are appointed to make important decisions on your behalf.