Happy Wednesday!!! After all of the snow we had during February, I feel as though I’m finally getting back on track. Between the constant re-scheduling and flooding, I’m very happy that spring is on the way and I very much welcome the change in season!
Speaking of change, this week we are discussing how to talk with your ex-spouse or partner about estate planning. Although you may no longer be in a relationship with your ex, if you have children together, it’s important that you raise the following concerns about their estate plan:
1. Are their beneficiary designations up to date? Not only do you want to ensure that all of your ex’s policies are current, it’s important that they do not list your minor children as the beneficiary. Remember, minors cannot inherit money! Talk to your ex about Trust Based Planning. Using a trust is an effective way to bypass probate and ensures that your children’s inheritance is properly managed without state intervention. Also, be sure that you are not named as a beneficiary or as a primary decision maker in their estate plan if that is a role you are no longer comfortable fulfilling. A change in relationship or family circumstance always triggers an estate plan review.
2. Have they named a guardian? If you are both dead, who will care for the children? This may be something that you two can still agree on. If not, be sure that your ex has a guardianship appointment. Otherwise, any family member has the opportunity to petition the court for guardianship. Multiple family members stepping forward at once creates additional chaos in the midst of tragedy.
3. Have they revised their estate plan after re-marriage? Routinely, I see children accidentally disinherited from one’s estate because of improper planning. Re-marriage complicates estate planning and can inadvertently devise all assets to a new spouse leaving nothing for the children. How your ex leaves their inheritance is ultimately their decision, but you want to be sure that their legacy is not a product of accident or oversight.
Remember, it’s important to remind your ex that you are not looking to control what they do with their estate. When it comes to the children you simply want things to be as smooth and as easy for them as possible. Creating a plan now can prevent a nightmare if something should happen to either of you in the future.
Until next time,