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Estate Planning in the middle of Divorce

Posted on Sun Mar 17, 2019, on Estate Planning

Estate Planning Lawyer

They say that over half of marriages in America end in divorce. That is a sad statistic. Recently the issue we have witnessed is what happens to assets upon an unexpected death, while the divorce is still in the midst of getting finalized?

Estate Planning in the middle of Divorce:

Typically when a divorce case is started, the couple is not allowed to move around assets. Typically, these moves are subject to negotiations. This timeframe can often take years before the issues and the settlement is finalized. In the meantime, if the couple has been separated, who is to say that either person is not going to do some financial “manipulation.”  Both sides typically fear “hiding” of income and/or assets.

A Recent Example.

Recently a woman came into our firm and stated that she and her husband filed for divorce in 2016. They had already been separated. Their attorneys were striving, slowly, to figure out child support, alimony, and asset division. There were many court appearances. Continuances, due to not agreeing on terms, stretched out the timeline. In the midst of the negotiations, the husband lost his job. Needing funds he went into his retirement account to make ends meet. This account was significant. The wife was highly encouraged by her husband to sign the papers to cash it out.

A few months later, the husband unexpectedly died. The divorce was not yet final. Husband had a child from a previous marriage.  He had put that child on the account he opened when he cashed out the retirement account. The wife opened a probate estate. She thought that the account would be included, and distributed to her, and her minor children. But instead, it all went to the other child, her stepchild.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst.

A divorce is already a tumultuous event for any family to endure. But when you add in an unexpected death, plus an unexpected removal of assets that were earned during a 30-year marriage, then it becomes even more of a tragedy.

Estate Planning in the middle of Divorce:

The best thing to do is to consult with an estate planning lawyer Palatine, IL trusts while you are going through a divorce process. You can start to add people that will act on your behalf (other than your soon to be ex-spouse).  Further, you can protect your children, and the assets they will hopefully inherit. It’s important to know all of the issues that arise. An Estate Planning Lawyer’s advice will help.

Thanks to Bott & Associates, Ltd. for their insight into estate planning and divorce.

Peter KlenkPeter Klenk

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