As part of organizing your financial affairs following a divorce, you should also make preparations for your financial affairs after your death. Planning your estate is an essential part of getting one’s financial matters in order at any point in life, but divorce opens up some interesting issues with estate planning.
Minnesota state law has dealt with divorce and the validity of estate documents made while married in an interesting manner. Minnesota statutes Section 524.2-804 states that if a divorced person’s most current will was completed while still married it will be applied as if the ex-spouse died immediately prior to the divorce. The ramifications are that a will remaining from a failed marriage will be applied as if both ex-spouses have died. The property then passes on to the contingent beneficiaries, such as children and siblings. Furthermore, the Minnesota statutes state that the dissolution of marriage also revokes any assignment of fiduciary or representative capacity on the ex-spouse, such as serving as executor, trustee, conservator or guardian.
Minnesota lawmakers appreciated the importance of estate planning. The approach these statutes take is to recognize the divorce, but keep the estate documents partially in-force. Nonetheless, while Minnesota law has stepped in to ensure that your ex-spouse does not inherit your property, it has left your estate plan with a lot of question marks. If your ex-spouse is not your executor who is?
That is why it is imperative to create a new set of estate documents soon after your divorce, which revokes the estate documents made while you were married. There is a good chance that there are other people besides your ex-spouse named in the estate documents from your marriage, that you would prefer to change. Do you really want your ex-spouse’s brother handling your financial affairs?
So many people delay estate planning because they don’t want to think about their death. The fact is, estate planning is more about your assets, your family and your friends. It is an opportunity to think about how you would like your assets distributed to reflect the new you and your wishes. There is also peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you have made arrangements so that your death doesn’t cause your family any more stress than it has to. In coming blogs, we will discuss the important aspects of estate planning in more depth, so that you can tackle the process with an appreciation of the gift this can be for your loved ones.
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