Post-Divorce Prosperity: Estate Planning Essentials with Attorney Melissa MiroslavichNov 16, 2023
When going through a divorce, it feels like there are 100 different things that need to get done between planning, mediation, lawyers, moving, etc. One thing that is often overlooked during the divorce process is creating or updating your estate plan to ensure your post-divorce prosperity. This week on the podcast, I was joined by Melissa Miroslavich, an attorney and estate planner who gave me some incredible tips that I’m excited to pass along.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a plan for managing assets and wealth during your lifetime and beyond. This includes a variety of documents, forms, and decisions. Decisions about who you want making the call about your life if you are unable, and where you want your assets and finances to go when you pass away. You may not think you have an estate, but if you have assets and finances then you do!
Estate Planning consists of a will, trust, power of attorney, and health care directive. The power of attorney and health care directive are associated with your living care, while the will and trust are how your assets and financials are divided according to your wishes when you die.
These documents may be something that you’ve already created with your spouse, however your desires around beneficiaries and decision makers are probably shifting now that you are separating. In the midst of a divorce, you often aren’t thinking about estate planning, as there are so many other things on the table. Many people assume that it can be addressed post divorce, but the truth is there are some key decisions that need to be made during the divorce process. For example, if your spouse is listed on your health care directive, and something happens to you during the divorce, they will be the one who makes any health decisions about and for you. In some cases, this may be totally fine, but there are other cases where you would no longer want your spouse making those decisions for you.
You all know I love mediation and collaborative law, and if you and your spouse are able to discuss estate planning during mediation it’s a win! This is definitely something that I am going to add into conversations with my clients after everything I’ve learned from Melissa. Your family structure is changing and by working together you can be intentional about the decisions you are making. Coming up with an agreement about what would happen with your children if both of you passed away can be a great decision to make together so that your estate planning decisions match. You’ll also want to think about finances. If one of you were to pass away, would your money go to the living co-parent to support the children or into a trust to save away when the children reach a certain age?
When it comes to 401k’s or other investments, you’ll need to go in and manually update the beneficiary on those accounts. Most people have their spouse listed as the beneficiary on these types of accounts, and if you don’t update the information then the money will go to your ex-spouse in the event you pass away. An estate planner is an excellent asset to your financial team (CPA and tax preparer), as they may be able to uncover missing items that haven’t been updated.
What I really learned from my conversation with Melissa was that an estate planner is an essential part of your divorce team, and a person that you do not want to go through this process without. Melissa has kindly offered free consultations with any of my listeners in the Minnesota area, so reach out on the website or call Schromen Law LLC at 651-571-2515 to see how she can support you along with your divorce. As always, I am here if you are seeking mediation support or are just curious about more information. Schedule your free consultation today!
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