Philadelphia Estate Planning Lawyer
At the law office of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., sponsor of MyPhillyLawyer.com, we strive to establish estate plans that are tailored to the specific needs and desires of our client. When a couple divorces, however, those needs and desires may change, so it is important to revisit estate planning documents and determine what changes should be made. Otherwise, your ex-spouse could inherit property that you did not intend for them to inherit.
Make Sure Your Estate Planning Documents are Current
Don't let your ex-spouse inherit everything you have fought so hard for in divorce. Whether you have been divorced for years, have recently divorced, or are in the midst of the divorce process, if you haven't modified estate planning documents, it is time to consult a lawyer and make the necessary changes.
At the Philadelphia law firm of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., our lawyers can assist you with various post-estate planning services:
- Change beneficiaries: Is your ex-spouse designated as a beneficiary for your last will and testament, trusts, life insurance policies, a 401k, IRA, or other account? You must name new beneficiaries so that your ex-spouse does not inherit your hard-earned assets. Alternatively, you could name your trust as the beneficiary — as long as your ex-spouse is not the named beneficiary of the trust.
- Revoke rights: If you have designated your ex-spouse as an agent or surrogate in living will declarations or powers of attorney for health care, these estate planning instruments should be revoked and re-established, naming a new individual that you wish to appoint. Additionally, HIPAA waivers may need to be revoked or revised.
- Close joint accounts: More than likely, you thought to close any joint accounts or credit cards in the process of the divorce. But you must make sure that all joint accounts are closed, including terminating any access granted on separate accounts or access to lines of credit.
- Protect assets for minor children: If you have minor children when you die, your ex-spouse may have control over the assets you pass to your children. Therefore, it may be necessary to establish a testamentary trust in your will to hold the assets for the benefit of your minor children.
The Legal Impact of Separation
Under Pennsylvania law, if you die without a will, your spouse will receive your entire estate (if there are no children) and 50 percent of your estate (if there are children). In this context, the law recognizes legal relationships — not personal relationships. Therefore, if you have separated but not formally divorced, the law still recognizes you as married. Under Pennsylvania's intestate statutes, your former partner (and legal spouse) would still receive an inheritance. Therefore, if you have legally separated rather than seeking divorce, proper estate planning could never be more important.
Protect the Assets You Fought so Hard for in Divorce
Contact the Philadelphia estate planning lawyers of MyPhillyLawyer.com for experienced advice and dedication to providing quality service.