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Estate Planning After Divorce

Divorce brings changes in every area of your life, including how you want your assets distributed after your death. To make sure all bases are covered, you should review your estate plan or create one at the time your divorce is final. Since your divorce lawyer has gotten to know you and your assets very well, it can save you time and money to have them assist you in your estate planning. In addition, you have probably reached a certain comfort level with your divorce lawyer that will make it easier to communicate your wishes to them.

Why should I think about estate planning now?

Developing an estate plan can be a final act of closure in the divorce process. You will feel peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order, your loved ones are provided for, and that necessary changes (such as removing your former spouse as your executor or trustee) have been made.  If you are in a domestic partnership, documents typically referred to as "estate planning" can enable you to structure your relationship, and give your partner rights denied to them by Michigan law.   In 2010 and 2011 the federal estate tax exemption was $5,000,000, and it has increased to $5,120,000 in 2012, which means that if an estate is valued at $5,120,000 or less and death occurs in 2012, then the estate will not owe any federal estate taxes.  (But note that the federal estate tax exemption is scheduled to decrease to $1,000,000 on 1 January 2013.)  Even if your estate is below the exempted amount, an estate plan that allows your loved ones to avoid the expense and inconvenience of probate court is a wise investment. You may also wish to consider other important documents, such as a Medical Power of Attorney, a Patient Advocate Designation, or a Do Not Resuscitate Order to ensure that your wishes are followed in the event you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Another important document is the Durable Power of Attorney, in the event you become unable to attend to your own affairs during your lifetime.

When consulting with your attorney, you may consider which of the following documents fit your needs:

  • Will/Pourover will
  • Living Trust/Family Trust
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney/Patient Advocacy Designation
  • Do Not Resuscitate Order

LADY4JUSTICE understands that these can be complicated and very personal decisions. We will help you make decisions you can feel good about, knowing that your loved ones are taken care of during a difficult time.  Please call us to schedule a free telephone consultation, to discuss your estate planning needs.

Mindy L. Hitchcock