Going through a divorce is one of the most complicated experiences of a person’s life. A divorce has a significant impact on several aspects of your life, including your day-to-day home life, your finances, and your emotional health. This can feel overwhelming to deal with, even with a Topeka divorce lawyer helping you. However, there are other things your divorce impacts that you may not initially address. This includes any estate plan you set in place.
There are several benefits to creating a comprehensive estate plan, but these benefits are only useful if the estate plan remains enforceable and is relevant to your current lifestyle and needs.
Potential Issues Facing an Estate Plan After Divorce
There are several issues that may need to be addressed in an estate plan after divorce. This includes:
- Designating the Guardian of Your Children
An estate plan can include a guardian for your minor children, providing stability and certainty for them. After a divorce, your wishes for the guardian of your children may change. Depending on the nature of your divorce, you may want to alter this aspect of your estate plan to remain in your children’s interests.
- Beneficiary Designations
Individual assets like accounts frequently have beneficiary designations, and trusts can have beneficiary designations for the assets they hold. Most individuals name their spouses as their primary beneficiaries on bank accounts, retirement accounts, revocable trusts, and properties.
The separation agreement in a divorce may have handled the changes, but it’s important to review and alter the designations on these assets. You also want to ensure that your estate plan has the same designations as individual assets. Otherwise, your spouse will likely still have a claim to those assets, and this can result in familial disputes during the distribution of your estate.
- Power of Attorney Designations
Your estate plan may include durable and medical powers of attorney, which give legal authority to a family member or professional to make decisions on their behalf if they are unable to. Many people name their spouse as this person, and they may wish to update their powers of attorney after a divorce.
- Changes to Property You Own
An estate plan allows you to determine the people and organizations who benefit from your assets and estate. After a divorce, the contents of your estate may have changed significantly. Property division is an essential part of any divorce, in which all marital assets are divided between spouses.
It’s likely that you no longer own many of the assets listed in your estate plan. You also likely have a different financial situation that needs to be addressed. Your estate plan needs to be updated to reflect those changes.
- Unenforceable Due to Significant Changes
A divorce changes several things about your finances and property ownership and changes your family structure. The total of these changes can make an estate plan unenforceable. In this situation, an estate plan no longer serves its purpose of avoiding probate or making the process of probate more efficient. It’s essential to review your entire estate plan to determine how it needs to be revised and altered to show the changes in your life.
Q: Does Divorce Affect Estate Planning?
A: Yes, a divorce can impact an estate plan you have in place. Under Kansas intestate law, your spouse’s right to inherit your property is revoked once you are divorced. However, this automatic change will not carry over to a legally valid estate plan.
An estate plan needs to be reviewed after major life changes like divorce to determine what changes. You may want to change beneficiary designations, executor or trustee designations, or listed guardians for minor children. Your assets may have changed significantly after divorce, requiring you to change the contents of an estate plan.
There may be so many changes after a divorce that your estate plan will be completely unenforceable unless you update it.
Q: How Are Assets Split in a Divorce in Kansas?
A: Kansas operates under equitable distribution laws. This means that marital assets in a divorce are split equitably if a couple has their property division decided by the court. The court will review several factors and decide, based on those factors, what a fair and reasonable split of marital assets would be. Factors the court looks at include:
- Each spouse’s age and earning capacity
- Each spouse’s separately owned property
- Any misuse of marital assets or marital misconduct that negatively impacted marital assets
- The financial obligations of each spouse
- How much each spouse contributed to marital assets
- Any other relevant factors
Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Kansas?
A: Each spouse is entitled to an equitable portion of marital assets. The court assumes that each spouse deserves an equal share of assets prior to determining what is a fair split. Once the court reviews certain factors about the marriage, it will determine what is a fair split of marital assets.
Property division in divorce only applies to marital assets, or assets obtained throughout the duration of the couple’s marriage. There are some exceptions to this, such as one spouse’s inheritance. Separate assets, or assets that each spouse obtained prior to marriage, are not divided. However, they are a factor in determining an equitable split of assets.
Q: How Many Years Do You Have to Be Married in Kansas to Get Alimony?
A: There is not a specific amount of time a couple must be married in order for one spouse to receive alimony. In Kansas, the court reviews several factors when determining whether or not to award alimony. These factors include:
- Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living the couple was used to
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage
The length of the marriage does impact alimony, and marriages that last longer than ten years are more likely to have alimony awarded. However, any marriage may involve alimony depending on all factors.
Protect Your Interests and Your Future
An estate plan can give you stability and a sense of certainty about the future. The sooner you alter an estate plan to accurately reflect your new life, the better your estate plan can protect you, your family, and your estate. Contact an experienced Topeka estate planning attorney at Stange Law Firm today.