When relationships break down the effects can often ripple throughout the whole family and will impact not only your life moving forward but also the lives of those around you. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how a change in circumstances can be overlooked and yet have devastating consequences later.
It is fairly obvious to most people that should you divorce you may not want your former spouse to receive anything from your Estate when you die. In fact the law states that any gift to a spouse will be treated as null and void once the Decree Absolute has been declared.
There is a period of time however when you are exposed and the future of your Estate could be in jeopardy unless you consider all of your options early on. Most people would simply wait until after the Decree Absolute to change their Will however, it is more important to undertake this task as soon as you have made the decision that they are no longer to be part of your future.
There are various products and arrangements that can be put into place that will protect your Estate and your immediate assets should anything happen to you during the period prior to the issue of the Decree Absolute.
Quite often, following the breakdown of a relationship, everyone believes that they can be amicable and that matters will not resort to a long drawn out battle. Unfortunately, the reality is that the majority of divorces will take an unexpected turn at some point, whether it be a dispute over finances or children. By taking the proper estate planning advice early on, you can ensure that your estate passes to those you still hold dear and not into the hands of your former spouse's new partner.
Firstly, you should make sure that, wherever possible, you sever ownership of joint assets. Secondly, you need to draft a Will which deals with your new asset structure, to ensure that they do not pass, by survivorship, automatically to your former spouse.
Regardless of what you have put in your Will, if the property is still in joint names as Joint Tenants, then it will pass directly to your former spouse. You need to ensure that you have severed the tenancy so that the property is held as Tenants in Common, thereby securing your share of the property for your beneficiaries.
You will also need to consider Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) to be able to appoint someone you trust to deal with your financial affairs and decisions about your Health and Welfare should you have an accident or become ill. Would you really want your disgruntled spouse being the only person that can authorise the Doctors to provide life-saving treatment? Putting in place LPAs for Property and Finance and Health and Welfare will ensure that you and your assets are taken care of should anything happen to you.
Within your Will you can also appoint a Guardian for any of your children who are still minors at the date of your death. You may decide that you would not like your former spouse's new partner to take care of them should your former spouse be unable to do so. Without any guidance within your Will there would be little indication for the Courts or Social Services to decide what your intensions were.
Our Consultants can guide you through the various aspects that your matrimonial lawyer may not be able to do.
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