Both divorce and estate planning require careful legal attention, and the experienced estate planning attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC, have the legal insight to address all your pressing concerns. Divorce represents a significant transition in the life of anyone who experiences it, and in addition to the emotional challenges and the legal complications, there are the consequences of divorce and estate planning to consider. Because the terms of your divorce can directly affect your financial rights, including your estate plan, working closely with an experienced estate planning attorney is paramount. At Centonzio Law, PLLC, in both Kansas City, Missouri (813-710-7290), and Largo, Florida (727-900-9455), our dedicated estate planning attorneys have a wealth of experience successfully guiding our clients through the challenges of protecting their estates plans following the divorce process.

Established Estate Plans

You and your spouse built a life together, and throughout the years of your marriage, you may have created an estate plan to protect your financial legacy and to help ensure each other’s continued well-being in the event that one of you was left alone. With divorce, your estate plan may prove to carry significant legal challenges in the future if it is not changed to reflect your wishes. For example, you are unlikely to retain one another as your beneficiaries. In the divorce process, however, it is easy to lose sight of how divorce can affect the estate plan you have already put into effect, which makes it important to contact your estate planning attorney as soon as possible to ensure your wishes are carried out following your divorce.

Your Estate Planning Documents

The estate planning documents to consider after the divorce process may include:

  • Your Last Will and Testament (will) (as addressed by the State of Missouri and by the State of Florida)
  • Your financial power of attorney (POA)
  • Your health care proxy
  • Your insurance policies (and their beneficiaries)
  • Any trusts you and your spouse have established together

Divorce can require significant changes to each of these documents and more (depending upon the unique circumstances of your marriage and divorce).

Your Family’s Continued Well-Being

Protecting your assets following the divorce process is naturally critical, but if your divorce involves minor children, it is essential that your divorce also addresses their ongoing financial support and overall well-being. For example, part of your divorce and estate planning efforts likely includes a life insurance policy for one or both of you, which helps to ensure that your children will continue to receive the support they require if one of their parents dies prematurely.

Life insurance policies are owned by whomever purchases them and pays the premiums, which gives the policy owner the legal authority to maintain the policy (or not) and to change the beneficiaries as he or she sees fit. As such, creating a trust as the owner of a life insurance policy that your family may come to rely upon is often the best policy.

Understanding Revocable Trusts

A revocable living trust delineates instructions for how the trust’s funding will be distributed. The grantor creates and funds the trust, and the provisions included therein can help to guarantee that the terms of your divorce – as they relate to child support and alimony – are carried out if the grantor passes before the terms are fulfilled. Trusts also have the following advantages:

  • Avoiding the lengthy and complicated probate process
  • Ensuring specific federal tax advantages

The experienced estate planning attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC, have dedicated their practice to protecting the legal and financial rights of clients like you following the divorce process and beyond.

Keep Your Estate Planning Attorney Involved

Divorce comes with its own set of legal challenges, which makes it far easier to lose sight of how your estate planning is affected than you may realize. By working in close tandem with your estate planning attorney from the outset, you may receive the following legal guidance:

  • Your estate planning attorney will carefully review your divorce terms and settlement in search of any financial gaps that could negatively affect your finances moving forward.
  • Your estate planning attorney will help to ensure that you and your children are financially protected in the event that your ex-spouse dies prematurely.
  • Your estate planning attorney will help manage your exposure to state and federal estate taxes.
  • Your estate planning attorney will help you protect the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts from the impact of your divorce.
  • Your estate planning attorney can help provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your children will be provided for according to your wishes in the event you die before they reach adulthood.

Can an Inheritance Be Taken in a Divorce?

Those assets that you and your spouse acquire together during the years that you are married are – in the eyes of the law – marital property (regardless of who purchased the property or whose name is attached to the title or deed). The only exceptions to this rule include:

  • Gifts made in one spouse’s name alone
  • Inheritances made in one spouse’s name alone

It is important to note, however, that separate property such as an inheritance (and any other assets that you bring into the marriage with you) can lose its separate quality if the assets are not kept strictly separate throughout your marriage. If an inheritance becomes entangled with your marital assets, your spouse could be entitled to his or her equitable share. Both Missouri and Florida are equitable distribution states, which means your marital assets must be distributed between both spouses fairly upon divorce. In other words, keeping your inheritance separate is paramount if you wish to keep full control of those assets following your divorce.

Consult with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you are facing a divorce, you have questions and concerns related to divorce and estate planning – including can an inheritance be taken in your divorce – and the accomplished estate planning attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC – proudly serving both Kansas City, Missouri, and Largo, Florida – are here to help. To learn more, please do not wait to reach out and contact or call us at 813-710-7290 (in Kansas City) or at 727-900-9455 (in Largo) today.

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