Although it can be a difficult process, there are many things that need to be done when filing for divorce in Georgia. One thing that must be done, with the help of an experienced attorney, is to get your personal will and trusts updated.
This is especially true if you have a life insurance policy, retirement accounts, investments, property or even a joint trust with your spouse. If you fail to form a single person trust or designate new beneficiaries on your other property, your former spouse will still receive everything you own, even after being legally divorced. Also, if you neglect to create an updated power of attorney and living will, your soon-to-be former spouse will be the only person with legal permission to make decisions for you if you are permanently or temporarily debilitated. For most people, the thought of their soon-to-be former spouse making decisions such as life-support means, assisted living or home health care is scary. Also, the former spouse most likely does not want that liability any longer. That is why it is critical to get these matters taken care of either before or after the divorce proceedings.
There are, however, specific time-frames as to when you can update or amend estate planning documents during a divorce in Georgia, so please learn the following guidelines:
Updating Your Estate Plan Before Filing Divorce in Georgia
It is recommended you consider revoking and restating all of your estate planning documents before filing for divorce. This includes updating your advanced healthcare directive, or a living will, and financial power of attorney so someone other than your former spouse has the ability to make financial or medical choices for you if you are incapable. This is especially true if you’re gearing up for a chaotic divorce which could not end for a number of years.
You’ll also want to change the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy, retirement accounts and other investments. If you have a joint trust with your former spouse, you’ll need to discuss it with your will and trust lawyer to find out whether you must provide notice to your former spouse before it is revoked.
Updating Your Estate Plan During Divorce Proceedings in Georgia
During the divorce proceedings, the ability to revoke your trust or name new beneficiaries on certain accounts can be stopped. What’s known as an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO), or a Standing Order. This will kick in to ensure your assets and ownership interests remain in your name until an official division of assets and ownership interests takes place. Therefore, it’s important to note that if you pass away during this time, your soon-to-be former spouse will still become the beneficiary of your estate. You can, however, update your will, power of attorney and living will during this time to reduce the amount of power your former spouse would have if something unexpectedly happens to you.
Updating Your Estate Plan After a Divorce in Georgia
After the divorce proceeding, you are considered a single person to the State of Georgia. You are free to update, revoke and amend your estate planning documents as you may want. However, Many people wrongly believe their former spouse is no longer entitled to their assets once the divorce is officially approved. Therefore, it’s important to make sure every legal document is restructured immediately following the divorce.
When to Get Help
It is highly advised for someone going through a divorce to speak with both a divorce attorney and an estate planning attorney to know every aspect of the legal process and its ramifications. It is critical to make sure your estate plan reflects your new situation to avoid everything you own going to your former spouse if you pass away or avoid having him or her legally responsible to make medical or financial decisions for you in the event of incapacity.
For most families, the decision to divorce is usually followed by other intensive questions about what to do with the children, finances, and property. During these difficult times you want a lawyer who understands the process and who is willing to be patient in helping you and your family successfully move forward. We understand how incredibly stressful these situations can be on those involved. Let us do the worrying for you, so you can get on with your life.
Whether it is a divorce or a matter involving your children, you want to have a lawyer who cares and is willing to listen to your side of the story. At Dove Law Firm, we believe successful advocacy in family law cases requires taking the time to getting to know the client and understanding your concerns. For residents of Tifton, Abbeville, Adel, McRae, Sylvester, Ocilla, Moultrie, Nashville, Cordele, Hazlehurst, Douglas, Ashburn and Fitzgerald, we provide the personalized attention you deserve during these trying times.
The family lawyers of Dove Law Firm, LLC, are eager to represent you in legal matters to include:
• alimony or spousal support
• child support & modifications
• child custody & visitations
• divorce law & litigations
• financial agreements & modifications
• joint or shared custody pre-nuptials & post-nuptials
• property settlements
• restraining orders
• separation agreements
• termination of parental rights, and
• wills and estates.
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