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High asset divorce: Don't forget to update estate plans

The topic of divorce was regularly in the year-end news for Maryland and elsewhere around the country. Many reports centered on the changes to how alimony would be treated for tax purposes, starting in 2019, and the possible surge to get divorces finalized before the end of 2018. Whether a couple's divorce is final or the proceedings are just starting, experts remind individuals of the importance of updating estate plans. This is particularly critical for a couple in the midst of a high asset divorce.

Estate plans should include details about how assets will be distributed after one's death. They also frequently establish health care directives or end-of-life decision-making capabilities should someone become incapacitated. Getting a divorce has a major impact on these decisions and plans need to be reviewed and updated accordingly.

An ex-spouse still may receive some portion of a person's estate, though these details should be handled in consultation with an experienced attorney. Beneficiary designations need to be changed to reflect the new marital status. Likewise, health care designees need to be updated so someone's former spouse is not named to provide any type of care. In addition, carefully examine other documents, such as wills or trusts, to confirm that the appropriate people are listed to make decisions on one's behalf.

If a couple has children, the issue of guardianship needs to be addressed. In some situations, it is recommended to establish a trust for minor children. This can help avoid the situation of an ex-spouse controlling the children's finances until they become adults. Also, pay careful attention to any policies or accounts where beneficiaries are listed. Matrimonial experts also suggest developing a prenuptial agreement if a person decides to get remarried following a divorce.

Estate plans are important to provide assurance that one's assets are handled properly and are certainly not just for those going through a high asset divorce. A Maryland divorce lawyer can assist clients through every stage of the divorce process. An experienced attorney will work to achieve the best possible outcome in the proceedings.

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