As a married individual, you may have created a will with your spouse, leaving all of your assets and real estate to your surviving spouse in the event of your death. You may have also opted to craft an additional estate planning tool referred to as a trust, possibly to bypass the probate process in order to save time and money or take advantage of certain tax benefits.
But if you are in the midst of a divorce, modifying your trust should be in the top 10 things to do after your divorce is finalized.
The importance of modifying your trust after your divorce
It understandable that tackling estate planning documents, like wills and trusts, are not on the priority list for you. Individuals going through a divorce, like yourself, have countless things to do, including building a new life.
But modifying your trust is essential.
Such a document is designed to carry out your wishes. Perhaps during your marriage, you and your spouse placed specific assets in a trust, naming each other as the trustee. Maybe you named each other as the beneficiary of the property in the trust. But, it's likely your wishes have changed after you and your spouse have gone your separate ways.
Without doing anything, your ex-spouse would still be named the trustee and have complete control over the management of your property.
Fortunately, you have options. Depending on your circumstances, there are typically two main options to pursue when it comes to altering your trust.
Option 1 - creating a new trust
One option to consider is revoking your existing trust and creating a new one. This would allow you to name a new beneficiary or trustee and alter any property outlined in the documents. However, simply starting over can be both time consuming and expensive.
Option 2 - restating the trust
Alternately, instead of completely creating a new trust, you could restate your trust. In basic terms, restating your trust simply means that your original trust document remains valid, but is identified as a restatement of the original one. Property listed in the trust stays the same but you change the listed beneficiary.
Reaching out to an attorney
Both of these options in no way provide a comprehensive explanation. The above is only a broad overview of potential options available to you. Since every situation is different, the route you take will depend on your individual circumstance.
Reaching out to a family law attorney in your area with expertise in estate planning documentation for divorcing parties is advised. Your lawyer can provide the best guidance based on what you wish to accomplish and the applicable laws in your jurisdiction.