I would like to begin this article by stating for the record that none of what I am about to say is legal advice. I am not an estate planning lawyer, family law lawyer, nor am I a divorce and family law expert. I am, however, going to share with you my experiences in dealing with the what ifs and unexpected happenings in life, and how you can protect yourself.
It surely comes as no surprise to you that divorce happens, and in fact, is rather common. But did you also know that the more divorced friends and family you have in your inner circle raises your chances for marital demise? If, for example, your close friends are divorced, you are nearly 150% more likely to have your marriage dissolved. And if your siblings find themselves walking the divorce aisle, you, too, are at a 22% increased chance of divorce.
My point is, nobody expects or plans for it to happen, but divorce does often rear its ugly head. Before you find yourself filing for divorce and embarking on divorce proceedings, consider these things:
- Do I Need a Living Will or Trust?
- There is a Difference Between a Will and a Trust
- What Stipulations Should My Will or Trust Include?
Anyone with assets, regardless of martial status (single, widowed, divorced three times, etc.) should have a will. End of story. If you are married, it is doubly important. It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between a will and a trust.
If you have a children, beneficiaries, or others you wish to bequeath your belongings or assets to, you need a will. This is a crucial component that any estate planning lawyer california will tell you. A will, however, is processed through the courts, regardless if it is a living will or a last will.
Conversely, a trust does not often require court participation (granted it still transfers property or assets to beneficiaries). Another huge difference between a will and a trust is that with a last will, it goes into effect after your death. With a trust, it goes into effect the minute you create it.
Before you ask yourself, do I need a trust?, keep in mind that trusts do not replace wills; they often only deal with assets such as property or insurance. A trust is also useful for estate planning purposes.
After you have decided if you want a will or trust (or perhaps both), consider the laws in your state. For example, in some states, if a parent passes away, the stepparent (with whom a child lives) can legally adopt the child regardless if the other (living, biological) parent contests this decision.
This is why you must consider all caveats, circumstances, and local laws. In addition, estate or inheritance taxes can be a huge burden on your loved ones. Again, these are just things to consider, but you should always consult with estate planning attorneys in your state who are recognized by the American Bar Association. Research more like this.