While estate planning might not be at the top of the list of things to do during a divorce for Illinois residents, it should not be forgotten because it can have powerful consequences in both the short and long term. There are some modifications that should be done during divorce, while others need to be made when the divorce is final.
The first thing that residents going through a divorce should do is learn which documents they can modify during the divorce. Accounts that cannot be modified during the divorce process usually include beneficiary forms on insurance and retirement accounts, pensions and 401k accounts. Once this is information is known, the next step is to modify power of attorney and health care proxies. These are important, particularly if they have a durable power of attorney with their spouse, which means the spouse can access their individual accounts.
Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements need to be reviewed, as they can include what a spouse will get after death and any updates made must adhere to this. As well, the will should be updated, particularly if the spouse has been named executor of the will. In this process, the person can also appoint an alternate guardian for minor children in case of the person’s death, even though their ex-spouse will probably receive guardianship of the children unless deemed unfit by a court. In doing the update, the state laws will also need to be considered. While some spouses opt to leave their ex-spouse exactly what is just required by law, others choose to disinherit their exes completely, knowing that the ex will contest the will.
Estate planning during divorce can be complicated. Divorcing residents might seek assistance from a lawyer with family law experience who can explain the laws regarding estate planning and divorce and who can help the person plan appropriately while remaining within the law.