If you recently finalized your divorce in Oklahoma City, you are likely faced with many sudden changes in your life. Even if you and your spouse reached a mutual agreement to divorce and there is minimal bad blood between you, ending a marriage is emotionally difficult for anyone. The underlying cause of the divorce is also likely to cause long-lasting distress, and divorce holds many financial implications that can make this situation even more challenging.
While you may face a new child custody schedule, a child support payment agreement, new living arrangements, and various other challenges after your divorce, one thing that demands attention as soon as you can spare it is your estate plan. While creating a plan for the end of your life can be a morbid and difficult concept to approach, spending time creating an effective estate plan can pay off tremendously for your family in the future.
If you already have an estate plan of any kind, your recent divorce is likely to influence various aspects of it. When you made your estate plan while married, the contents took your circumstances at the time into consideration. Now that you have divorced, those circumstances have changed, and it is crucial to change your estate plan to reflect this.
The Benefits of Estate Planning in Oklahoma
When a person dies in Oklahoma, the state’s intestate succession law determines which of their relatives become their beneficiaries and inherit their property. In most cases, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased are first to receive an inheritance through this probate process. Unfortunately, the actual probate process is very time-consuming, expensive, and stressful for everyone involved. No family wants to face weeks of protracted probate proceedings after losing a loved one, and an estate plan could potentially help your loved ones avoid this after your death.
When you create a comprehensive and legally enforceable estate plan in Oklahoma, this will act as a guide for your family at the end of your life in various ways. You can convey your wishes regarding the distribution of the property you leave behind, designating which of your loved ones receive which assets you own. You can also assign preferences for custody or guardianship of your children. Depending on the type of estate plan you create, it may even be possible to help your loved ones avoid some estate taxes, but this isn’t always possible.
Ultimately, an estate plan offers peace of mind. You can nominate a personal representative or executor to oversee estate administration following the instructions outlined in your estate plan. If you have a reliable estate planning attorney assist you in creating your estate plan, your loved ones could effectively use it as a blueprint for disbursing your estate and avoid most, if not all, of the probate proceedings they would otherwise face.
How Divorce Affects Your Estate Plan
One of the most important advantages of making an estate plan is having control over beneficiary designations. When you designate a beneficiary, you are deciding what property they inherit if anything should happen to you. For example, if your employer provides a life insurance policy, 401k, or other investment benefits, they are likely to ask you to designate a beneficiary who will receive these benefits in the event of your death.
Your estate plan’s beneficiary designations should match those of the individual assets you control. For example, if you want your children to inherit your life insurance policy but your ex-spouse is listed as the primary beneficiary, they will have a legal claim to your estate if you do not change your plan accordingly after your divorce.
If you already have an estate plan that dictates how you would like your property distributed to your family, you must assess whether you still have the same assets listed in the estate after your divorce. Reconciling some financial issues will be easier than solving others, and it’s best to have an experienced attorney guide you in making changes after assessing the results of your property division determination.
Ultimately, everyone has different goals regarding estate planning in Oklahoma, and every divorce unfolds differently. It’s vital to secure individualized legal counsel from an attorney you can trust if you are unsure how to revise your estate plan to reflect your recent divorce.
Q: Do I Need a Lawyer to Create an Estate Plan?
A: Technically, it is possible to create your own estate plan, but ensuring that the estate plan is legally enforceable will be very challenging for anyone who does not have professional legal experience. It’s always best to consult legal counsel when you want to create any kind of estate plan in Oklahoma City.
Q: Do I Need to Create a New Estate Plan After Divorce?
A: It is sometimes possible to edit an existing estate plan after divorce with minimal difficulty. In other cases, a divorce has more widespread effects on an estate plan, and it makes more sense for the estate owner to create a whole new plan. If you’re unsure how to proceed with altering your estate plan after divorce, consult an attorney you can trust.
Q: When Should I Call an Estate Planning Attorney?
A: Many family lawyers in Oklahoma City have experience with estate planning or can at least advise their clients on how their divorces can influence their estate plans. After resolving the immediate problems you face following your divorce, it’s a good idea to speak with an estate planning attorney immediately to ensure you have a suitable estate plan in place as soon as possible.
Q: What Happens If Someone Challenges My Estate Plan?
A: Despite your best efforts to limit uncertainty for your family and make your final wishes as clear as possible to them in your estate plan, there is always a chance for unexpected disputes to arise over estate administration. Your family will need to resolve such issues in family court. Some disputes call the validity of an estate plan into question, while others pertain to breaches of fiduciary duty, fraud, and more.
Estate planning is an understandably difficult subject for many people in Oklahoma City, but it’s something everyone must consider after any major life event. Your recent divorce is likely to have changed your life in various ways and presented a host of new challenges just after completing difficult family court proceedings. Securing legal counsel you can trust will help you approach these challenges with confidence and reassurance.