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When to Discuss Estate Planning With Your Ex

Estate planning is important whether you are single, married, divorced or separated. For the sake of your minor children, there are a number of issues that warrant discussing with your ex. Here are some of the issues to consider when doing estate planning after a divorce:

Guardianship. If you pass away, your ex, the other parent, will get custody of your minor child, even if you had full custody and your ex just had visitation. The only circumstance that would change this is if your ex is an unfit parent or unavailable such as in prison. Even though this is the case, if you and your ex can agree together on alternate guardians, it could make life easier for your child and the potential guardian should an alternate become necessary.

Inheritance. This issue concerns who should be the person to manage your children’s inheritance should something happen to you. Some couples do not have any problem with their ex-spouse handling their child’s inheritance if something happens to them. Others do not want their ex-spouse handling the finances for their children. If you create a revocable living trust, you can specify who you want to manage the trust funds for your children. If you don’t want your ex to be the trustee, you can choose a relative as trustee or even a family friend of private professional fiduciary who will manage the assets for your children and make distributions according to the trust provisions. Either way, it is a good idea to discuss this with your former spouse. You also may want to put provisions in your respective trusts insuring that your child has visitation with other family members such as grandparents.

Emergencies. This issue is so important to discuss with your ex, particularly if you share custody and don’t live near to each other. Make sure you get together and decide who you both would want to be a temporary guardian in case of an emergency and neither parent was available. Maybe another family member, neighbor, or friend, who could step in and take care of the child and get medical treatment in the event of an emergency.

Remarriage. If you or your ex decides to remarry, it is important that the ex-spouse remarrying consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that the children are protected. Most divorced people that remarry want to provide for their new spouse but not disinherit their children from a previous marriage. This can inadvertently happen if you do not have an experienced estate planning attorney draft your trust.

At Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation, we practice in both family law and estate planning and can help you address the issues that occur when divorced couples plan their estate. For any family law issues or estate planning issues, contact us to set up your complimentary consultation.

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