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Can you revise your estate plan during a pending divorce?

As readers know, one of the primary objectives of a divorce is to identify all jointly owned assets and joint debt obligations. Collectively, that financial picture is referred to as the marital estate. 

Notably, an individual does not have to wait until a divorce is final to begin the process of updating his or her estate planning documents. Of course, some assets might need to be adjusted, depending on how the court ultimately divides the assets and debts of the marital estate. This is true of jointly owned assets, such as real estate. 

However, some estate planning documents can be immediately updated. If incapacity were to strike before a divorce was finalized, for example, an updated power of attorney would provide some comfort to loved ones. In addition, beneficiaries named in retirement accounts can also be immediately changed or revised.

Finally, our law office advises our clients to make early projections of their anticipated post-divorce income streams. For those close to retirement, the catch-up contribution rules can help set aside more for retirement. Those rules allow an individual to contribute $6,000 over the standard annual $18,000 limit for a 401(k) account and $1,000 over the standard $5,500 limit in an IRA. 

All of this discussion illustrates the need to identify personal goals and objectives in a divorce. As an equitable distribution state, the rules for property division only need be fair in the court’s eyes, not necessarily an exact 50-50 split. For that reason, having an experienced divorce and property division lawyer advocating for your rights is key. Check out our firm’s website to learn more about our proactive approach to divorce planning.

Source: Forbes, “Easing The Financial Impact Of Divorce In Retirement,” Juliette Fairley, Jan. 22, 2016

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