Divorce. While nobody likes discussing this emotional process, the truth is that a majority of marriages do end up here. Splitting up can be a very emotional process for both parties, as marriage is meant to serve as a complete unity. This unificiation can result in numerous complications throughout the divorce process. One area that often does not receive enough attention is the estate plan. Many Americans do not realize the consequences that divorce can have in connection to estate law, especially when it concerns things such as your home or power of attorney. Many citizens can benefit from the help of a local estate planning attorney, which is a legal representative that specializes in the complexities of estate law. If you’re looking for an experienced and reliable estate lawyer in Maryland, the team here at JDKatz is here and ready to help.
We specialize in trusts and estates of all sizes, delivering personalized solutions to ensure the best results for you and your loved ones. Estate planning serves to provide complete peace of mind, which can be challenging when you are in the midst of a divorce. If you are going through a separation with your current spouse, it’s important to remember that divorce can play a major role in changing the accuracy and efficacy of your estate plan. Today, we’ll conclude our look into divorce and estate planning by highlighting considerations for your assets as well as your beneficiary designations. Be sure to call us when you are finished to learn more about our estate planning services!
A wide range of accounts are available to benefit you and your estate. These assets can include retirement benefits, 401(k)s, and other private programs. Divorce can prove to be very disruptive at any point in life, but if you are over the age of 50, it can result in serious issues. Spouses that are not the primary benefactors on different accounts can lose their access to Social Security benefits, pensions, retirement accounts, and so on.
Where you live can heavily affect the status of your accounts in the court’s eyes. Marital property is seen as a joint venture, as both spouses have worked together to earn these assets. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the focus of dividing assets centers around fairness instead of equality. Numerous factors — including age, income, owned assets, spouse behavior, and more — go into determining what your share of the estate is. Oftentimes, court intervention is necessary to create a fair outcome.
Advance Health Care Directives
As our previous blog posts have pointed out, this directive is very important when delegating your wishes as to who acts on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Many divorcees are surprised to learn that Maryland and D.C. hold differing reactions for legal separations, and the two responses do not conform to the norm:
- Maryland residents who designed their spouse as an agent will need to take further actions after divorce if desired, as this authority is not revoked by divorce.
- Washington, D.C. residents going through a divorce will need to address their advance health care directives, as a divorce will negate the former spouse’s authority. If desired, you can direct otherwise in your directive.
One key task following your divorce is to go through update your beneficiary list. States such as Maryland actively work to negate any authority remaining from a former spouse unless specifically laid out in a specific document or statement such as a divorce decree. While the law is a big factor in determining the next steps you need to take in finalizing your divorce, our estate lawyers recommend proactively updating your estate plan to ensure there are no gaps or deficiencies. Any time an individual is married, remarried, or facing a divorce, plans should be in place to update the beneficiaries. Failure to take make sure everything is in order can result in serious complications and setbacks for your loved ones if you were to pass away unexpectedly.
Working with a dedicated professional can bring you peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones will be appropriately cared for once you pass on. Our estate attorneys can help you find the best strategies to maximize your assets for both retirement and for your beneficiaries. We work to minimize any complications to make the process stress-free for everyone.
Staying Up To Date
The one piece of advice we can leave you with after this blog series is to continually stay up to date with your estate plan, including your will and probate plan, trusts, powers of attorney, and so on. It can be easy to forget to take care of this process, procrastinating it until it is too late! Based on where you live, incapacitation may lead to your ex-spouse making decisions on your behalf with your financial and legal authority. Simple steps now can avoid major headaches later on!
Nobody plans for divorce, but when it happens, there are steps that need to be taken to protect your estate from any unforeseen consequences. JDKatz is proud to serve as your experienced estate lawyers in Maryland, delivering comprehensive estate planning services to create the best outcome for your loved ones and your estate. Failure to have a proper plan in place can result in intestacy, where the state divides your estate to the best ability that it can. Contact us today to learn more about our estate planning services.