From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: “My mother lives in Philadelphia and is getting divorced. Does she need an estate lawyer in PA? Does divorce and estate planning go together?”
Divorce and Estate Planning.
Reevaluate your estate plan as soon as the divorce process begins. Likely, the person whom you are now divorcing is the same person you have named as executor, agent, and surrogate. The relationship has changed, and so should your estate planning documents.
Immediately Update Your Estate Planning Documents When Starting a Divorce.
During a divorce, quickly update your Power of Attorney and Living Will. In your case, your mother’s current documents likely name her spouse as Agent and Surrogate. Given that they are divorcing, she probably does not want him to have the power to empty her bank account (Power of Attorney) or to “pull the plug” (Living Will/Medical Power of Attorney). If your mother should become ill, who does she want to pay her bills or decide what doctor works on her case? Divorce can be painful enough; now she needs to name someone reliable and trustworthy.
Do You Want Your Spouse to Have Power of Your Bank Accounts?
Because she is in Philadelphia, it makes sense for her to retain an experienced estate lawyer located in Philadelphia PA. Should she retain me, I would also talk to her about updating her life insurance and IRA beneficiary designations and updating her Will. Should your mother die, she likely no longer wants her husband to get these assets? Often, spouses put off making these changes. The result can be her money passes to her husband, even if they are at the very end of the divorce process.
I focus my practice on being an estate lawyer, so I don’t handle divorce work. But I work in close collaboration with family law attorneys addressing clients’ legal needs.
Have your mother contact our office for a free consultation. We can help!
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!
Peter Klenk, Esq., LL.M.