Estate planning in California after the death of a spouse or divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. Understand the unique circumstances that arise in these situations and take the necessary steps to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.
Divorcing and estate planning
When a couple gets divorced, their estate planning documents often need to be updated to reflect the change in their relationship status. This is especially important if a will or trust names the former spouse as a beneficiary or executor. In many cases, a divorce decree automatically revokes any gifts or bequests to a former spouse. Still, it is important to double-check and make any necessary updates to ensure that your wishes are respected. Divorce may also impact retirement accounts and life insurance policies, so review these assets and make any necessary changes.
When a spouse dies
When a spouse dies, their estate planning documents will dictate the distribution of their assets. If the deceased spouse had a will or trust, the assets would typically be distributed according to the terms of those documents. However, suppose there is no estate planning in place. In that case, the assets’ distribution will be according to the laws of intestacy, which may not align with the surviving spouse’s wishes. Creating a new estate plan may be necessary to ensure that the surviving spouse’s assets are protected and distributed according to their wishes.
Major life events and estate planning
Estate planning after a significant life event, such as a divorce or the death of a spouse, is a heavy task. Work to protect your assets and have their distribution in accordance with your instructions. This may involve updating existing estate planning documents, creating new documents or making changes to beneficiary designations on accounts such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies.