Divorce can be an emotionally stressful and financially straining experience for anyone. Every divorce case is unique, and you likely have a host of concerns following the finalization of a recent divorce in the Kansas City, MO area. While many people need time to adjust to their new lifestyles after divorce, one concern that requires prompt attention is your estate plan. If you have any kind of estate plan in place, your recent divorce has likely influenced various components of it, and it may no longer suit your needs and interests.
If anything were to happen to you while your estate plan is no longer legally enforceable because of your divorce order, your surviving loved ones could face an arduous probate process. Estate administration through probate requires many court proceedings to identify, classify, and evaluate all of the deceased’s property and debts, resolve claims from their creditors, and distribute their remaining property under the state’s law of intestate succession. Proper estate planning can potentially spare your family this very difficult series of legal proceedings after your death, but only if you regularly update and adjust your plan to reflect your current financial status and other aspects of your life.
Adjusting to Life After Divorce in Kansas City
Divorce can be an upheaval in many ways. You and your ex have likely established separate living arrangements. If you have children together, adjusting to a newly approved custody order can be challenging for any Kansas City parent. While you’re likely to face many issues that require your attention after finalizing your divorce, it’s crucial to give your estate plan the attention it requires as soon as possible.
Life can be unpredictable, and a legally enforceable estate plan is a valuable source of peace of mind in case anything happens to you. The sooner you adjust your estate plan to reflect your new circumstances after divorce, the sooner you and your loved one can have this peace of mind again. Property division, spousal support determination, and other financial aspects of your divorce have likely touched various assets listed in your estate plan, and you must reconcile your plan with the financial agreements your divorce order entails.
Beneficiary Designations and Estate Planning Disputes Possible After Divorce
Some of the most common sources of estate administration disputes in Kansas City, MO are beneficiary designation conflicts. For example, if a deceased individual has a bank account and intends to leave it to their spouse, they will likely include this wish in their estate plan. The account itself likely has its own beneficiary designations, and these need to reflect the account owner’s estate plan. If they were to divorce later and remove their now ex-spouse as a beneficiary on their bank account, they would need to reflect this in their estate plan or vice versa.
In the event a person dies and an ex-spouse remains listed as a beneficiary on any of their accounts, this could lead to a series of heated disputes among the family. It is also possible for guardianship designations to become topics of dispute if a divorce order’s custody terms conflict with the deceased’s estate plan. Ultimately, any estate plan is going to require consistent reviews and occasional revisions, but it is especially important to revise your estate plan after finalizing a divorce.
What to Expect From an Attorney
An experienced estate planning attorney is a valuable source of guidance after a divorce. Whether you need to create an entirely new plan that accurately reflects your post-divorce life or only require a few changes to specific areas of an existing plan, an attorney is a valuable asset for these efforts. Your attorney can assess the details of your divorce order and compare them to any existing estate plans you’ve made, highlighting the areas that will require the most attention. While it’s possible to revise an estate plan on your own and even navigate a divorce case unassisted, it is always best to invest in legal counsel you can trust when you must change your estate plan after a divorce in Kansas City.
Q: Why Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Fix My Estate Plan?
A: It is always best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney if you need to create a new estate plan or adjust an existing one. If you recently finalized a divorce in the Kansas City, MO area and your divorce attorney has professional experience with estate planning, they may be able to offer some guidance as to the changes you should make to your plan. Otherwise, you should plan to consult an estate planning attorney as soon as possible after finalizing your divorce.
Q: What Are the Most Common Estate Administration Disputes?
A: Even if you create a comprehensive estate plan that you think addresses as many variables as possible, there is always a chance for a dispute to arise among your beneficiaries regarding various elements of your estate. Asset distribution to beneficiaries, claims from creditors, disputes over responsibility for outstanding debts, and disputes over guardianship of the deceased’s dependents are some of the most common conflicts that arise in Missouri estate administration.
Q: How Long Does Probate Take in Missouri?
A: Probate proceedings unfold according to the state’s laws of intestate succession. The probate process is notoriously time-consuming and stressful for everyone involved. The time required to complete probate varies on a case-by-case basis, but some of the factors that often extend probate proceedings include high net worth estates, guardianship disputes, and outdated or questionable estate planning documents. Your attorney can provide an estimate of how long probate may take to resolve.
Q: How Much Does an Estate Planning Attorney Cost to Hire in Kansas City, MO?
A: You should always verify a potential attorney’s billing policy before agreeing to their representation. When it comes to estate planning, some attorneys offer flat rates for specific legal services, while others charge their clients by the hour. A good attorney will clearly explain how they bill their clients and what you are likely to need from them.
Contact an experienced Kansas City, MO family law attorney if you have any legal questions regarding your impending divorce and your estate plan. The sooner you secure legal counsel you can trust, the sooner you can implement necessary changes to your plan after divorce.