Divorce is an important life event that requires changes to other aspects of your life such as retirement and estate planning. Decisions that were previously straight forward when you were married are more complicated when divorced but have children together. The following tips on estate planning for divorced parents can help you navigate some of those difficult decisions.
Whether to grant your ex-spouse guardianship of your children often depends on the life circumstances of your ex. In most cases, you will want your children to be cared for by their only living parent should something happen to you. However, in extreme cases where your ex is not suitable to be a guardian (as determined by the court) due to drug abuse, incarceration, health, etc., then you may want to select someone else. Read our tips on choosing guardians for your children for help with that decision.
Creating a Trust
When you have children, creating a trust is particularly important. Trusts allow you to provide very specific instructions on how to handle assets and disperse funds over time. It can include gradually releasing funds for your children’s daily living expenses, education, medical care, etc. A trustee, that you select, would be responsible for administering the trust. Without something like a trust, the guardian(s) will receive all funds and be responsible for it until your children turn 18 years old. This could place the assets in the hands of your former spouse.
Selecting a Personal Representative
Selecting a personal representative (executor) is a separate decision from guardianship, although it’s equally important given the responsibilities of a personal representative. Even if you decide to list your ex-spouse as a guardian, you may still want to assign someone else to settle your estate and distribute assets to beneficiaries. Again, it’s best if those assets are placed into a trust rather than given directly to any one person.
Other Tips on Estate Planning for Divorced Parents
These are but a few key considerations on estate planning for divorced parents. Your unique assets, debts, business ventures, and personal relationships will require other decisions and arrangements. Schedule a time to sit down with our team of Massachusetts estate planning attorneys to discuss your specific needs and different ways to accomplish your goals.