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Do It NowA divorce is often a stressful time, frought with emotion...and a lot of paperwork.  After all the income/expense statements, parenting plans, and other documents necessary for a divorce you would think you're finished with lawyers once the divorce is finalized, but that would be a mistake.

If you have a Will or any other documents related to an estate plan you will want to immediately update your estate plan and ensure your document updates reflect current laws and best practices.  If you do not update your estate plan, YOUR EX-SPOUSE COULD BE THE PERSON WHO MAKES HEALTHCARE DECISIONS AND/OR RECEIVES YOUR ASSETS!

Don't think it could happen?  It can and does.  Take the following example:

Mr. GC goes through a bitter divorce that was finalized a few years ago.  Sadly, Mr. GC did not update his estate plan and a few years after his divore he falls in his home and sustains a significant head injury, leaving him incapacitated.  Mr. GC's ex-wife eventually learns Mr. GC is on life support and may not recover.  Mr. GC's ex-wife makes the decision to terminate life support measures resulting in Mr. GC's death.  Mr. GC's ex-wife was legally able to make this decision as Mr. GC had no updated healthcare directive stating otherwise.  Additionally, Mr. GC's assets may be at risk.  A court will likely make a determination regarding the assets given the divorce, but without an updated Will or Trust no one can ascertain Mr. GC's wishes.  Did he still intend for the ex-wife to get his assets upon his death?  Maybe he still loved her...maybe he didn't.  No one knows his intentions.

The lesson from this example is simple: ALWAYS HAVE AN UPDATED ESTATE PLAN THAT CLEARLY COMMUNICATES YOUR WISHES!  A simple way to know when to update your estate planning documents is to contact a competent estate planning attorney after every major life event, such as marriage, birth or a child or divorce.  An attorney can review your current estate planning documents and make recommendations based on your current life circumstances.

As an estate planning attorney in St. Louis for nearly 30 years, I can't stress the importance of having your wishes regarding your healthcare decisions, asset distribution, funeral plans and more clearly written.  The last thing most people want is a court or person no longer involved in his/her life making decisions.  Unfortunately, I've seen it more than I should.  Take the time to speak with me or another experienced estate planning attorney and learn how an estate plan can simplify this difficult and stressful time when the time does come.  I think you will find my rates to be very reasonable.  If you'd like me to review your current estate planning documents or want to learn more about creating an estate plan, please contact me online or call 314-727-0163 to speak with me directly.

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