Tag: Divorce

Dividing Assets When Divorcing

While no one ever sets out to plan to get divorced, divorces are increasingly common in the United States today. When divorce happens, one of the most asked questions that people have undoubtedly has to do with their assets. For many separating couples, dividing material assets is one of the most challenging parts of the divorce process. While it may be difficult to work together with your former partner during this time, the more you and your future-ex spouse can agree on, the easier the division of assets will be.

Here are a few pointers on how to expedite this process and make it as easy as possible.

The More Organized You Are, the Better

A list is your best tool when it comes to getting yourself organized for asset division. It is simplest if you and your spouse can make a list together of joint items you own that will need to be divided. This is your starting point. There is no wrong item to put on this list.

Don’t Expect Everything to Be Equal

Most divorces turn out the be fair, but not necessarily equal when it comes to asset division. Typically, most couples struggle with homes, vehicles, retirement benefits, household items, and valuables. However, it is important to remember that all assets must be divided in a way that is satisfactory to both parties before the divorce can be finalized.

Try to Keep Things Civil

The more cordial and amicable the two parties can be, the better. Not playing nice will only drag the process out longer and disputes can not only be time-consuming, but they can lead to formal disclosures which can slow the divorce down even more.

Consider Dividing Assets into Trusts for Dependents

If you have dependents, talk to your attorney about dividing your assets into trusts for your children. It can help save you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse money and make sure that your assets are not divided among you but instead given to the heirs or dependents in your life, outside of other divorce proceedings. It is a great way to keep these valuable assets protected.

Be Prepared to Dispute the House and Cars

For most couples, the biggest issues with asset division are splitting the house and the cars. If you have children, judges will typically grant that the parent with primary physical custody stays in the home. However, some couples will choose to sell the home and split the proceeds. Vehicles are another common area of dispute.

Many individuals involved in divorces are surprised to find that the spouse who holds the sole title, doesn’t always necessarily get the vehicle that they own. Even a vehicle owned by one spouse can be considered marital property. A great tip to remember with vehicle distribution is to know the value of the vehicle in its current condition.

Take Your Time with Family Businesses and Retirement Benefits

Two of the most difficult assets to split are retirement benefits and family businesses. Both of these assets are very complex, they take time and they can be a source of contention. Retirement benefits don’t always just go to the individual who received these benefits through their work—they may be considered marital property.

Family-owned businesses must be divided based on the value of the business as is, along with present and future profits. Typically, the easiest agreement involves one spouse buying out the other spouse, once these values have been determined.

Always Consult with Your Attorney

The best thing that any divorcing party can do during this difficult time is to make sure they always consult their attorney for advice. The right legal expert can be a major asset when dividing assets. If you have questions about dividing assets or trusts please feel free to give the experts at Hegwood Law Group a call at (218) 218-0880.

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”