Tag: Divorce

Choosing Legal Guardians for Kids When Mom and Dad are Divorced | Houston Wills Lawyer

As a Houston wills lawyer, I can not state emphatically enough how important it is for all parents to create a comprehensive plan that will protect their children should the unthinkable occur.

But what happens if you are divorced and can not come to an agreement with your ex-spouse as to who should raise your kids if something happens to you? Should you go ahead and document your own guardianship wishes anyway? And just whose wishes would hold up in court?

In most cases, if your child’s biological parent is still living at the time of your death and you share custody, your children will be raised by the surviving parent, unless there is some clear reason why that should not happen.

There is nothing you can do about this unless you can prove that the child’s biological parent is unfit to raise your child and make a compelling case as to why your guardianship nominations should be honored under the circumstances.

Examples of this might include a severe drug addiction, criminal past or a history of abuse.

However, if this is unlikely, the next best thing to do is name guardians anyway so that your wishes for the care of your children will be known and taken into consideration should your ex-spouse also pass away before your kids reach the age of 18.

This is especially important in the event your ex-spouse did not legally document his or her guardianship wishes upon passing, as your wishes would then be given priority over, say, an unwilling step-parent (just think back to the Cinderella story for a chilling example of this).

Finally, if you are a single parent and have concerns not only about guardianship but also concerning your ex-spouse handling any assets you would leave to your kids if you passed away first, I encourage you to meet with a Houston wills lawyer right away so you can protect such funds in a trust. If you need help getting started with this, please feel free to give us a call at Hegwood Law Group and request a consultation: (218) 218-0880.

 

Estate Planning Needs to Happen After a Divorce

Bigstock-Beautiful-woman-looking-throug-20311445When your marriage ends, you need to immediately take action to make certain your interests are protected and that your estate plan reflects your new marital status.

What should you change? Forbes says, in two words, almost everything.

In "5 Things You Need To Do After Getting A Divorce,” Forbes says that once your divorce is final—with your divorce decree approved and the judgment rendered by the family court judge—you should immediately review and revise, if necessary, the following legal and estate planning documents:

  • Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney (property, healthcare, HIPAA, etc.)
  • Will (if you have one)
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts

For example, if your ex-spouse remains the beneficiary of your life insurance policy and you pass away, the proceeds will go to your ex-spouse instead of your children. That might not be what you want now.

If you don't have a valid will in place, since after a divorce an ex-spouse is no longer legally considered to be an heir, he or she will not be in line to receive anything from your estate. With your retirement accounts, after a divorce, you may revise your will to say that your 401(k) goes to your children, but if your wife remains the beneficiary of the plan, then she will get those funds. The retirement plan designations take priority over your will. The same is true for life insurance: proceeds will go to the named beneficiaries of those policies, rather than those named in a will.

Remember that when you make changes to estate planning documents, be sure those changes are in sync with the terms of your divorce decree. If the divorce decree states that your ex-spouse is to remain the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, you don't want to change that beneficiary designation on the policy.

Reference: Forbes (February 26, 2016) "5 Things You Need To Do After Getting A Divorce”