Congratulations! You and your spouse have given the greatest gift to your heirs by creating a will/trust in the event of your death, disability or incapacity. Everything is in place and it is time to live life to the fullest. Right? Maybe,maybe not!
One of many issues may be missing from consideration regarding your will/trust – DIVORCE. The divorce rate across the United States decreased as the economy took a down swing in 2007. Couples stayed together to avoid the expense of a divorce process and to conserve day-to-day monies. Florida’s real estate market and economy is on the rise again and more and more couples are finally going through with their divorces. They are moving on and creating new lives, with new people.
Life may be at status quo for the moment but reviewing your will/trust every few years is a great way to plan for the “what ifs” in life. Consult with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney and Family Law Attorney and ask questions. Consider the following ramifications of a divorce and how planning and updating your estate can benefit:
- Distribution of assets and liabilities – Under most circumstances, without written agreements otherwise, the State of Florida will divide assets and liabilities equally among both parties in a divorce. Consider family heirlooms, inheritances and other items possessed prior to the marriage. Do you want to be responsible for your ex’s school loans? These items will be discussed during the divorce proceedings but the process will be quicker if arrangements have already been documented.
- Spouses of children or other heirs – Designated beneficiaries or heirs are not immune to divorce. In cases of family businesses or previous inheritances, these assets need to be protected and distributed to those they were intended, not necessarily an ex-spouse.
- Leaving assets to a child in a trust to avoid possible alimony/support obligations to the ex-spouse is not a guarantee in Florida.
- Future spouses – Depending how assets are spit or designated, a new spouse may benefit from the assets sooner than the children from the original marriage. This includes children of the new spouse and/or children of the new marriage. Who should receive the tea pot your grandmother gave as a wedding present, a child of that union or the new spouse? The more people added to the equation, the more diluted the assets can become.
Review your will/trust, family plan and circumstances every few years or when a life change has occurred to avoid the above pitfalls and unintended costs and consequences. Life changes include birth, death, marriage and divorces within the family. For more information about estate planning, divorce and family matter and divorce, contact Ronald Luzim, Esquire in his Coral Springs office.