Even if you’re looking forward to breaking free from your marriage and beginning the next phase of your life, you can’t deny that a divorce can raise doubts and concerns about your financial security. Thankfully, you can counter some of the uncertainty that comes with divorce by modifying your estate plan to provide for your children and other family members once you’ve passed away.
It’s necessary to make certain changes to your estate plan as soon as your divorce commences; without a clearly defined will and other estate documents, your loved ones will be left in financial limbo while the court figures out how to distribute your assets after your death. However, Minnesota state law dictates exactly what you can and can’t change in your estate plan during a divorce, and you may face severe consequences if you don’t follow the rules.
Here’s what you can and can’t do to modify your estate plan in the middle of a divorce.
Automatic Changes to Your MN Estate Plan During Divorce
There are certain things that will automatically happen to your estate plan once you or your spouse files for divorce. As soon as divorce proceedings commence, your appointment of your spouse as your healthcare agent is automatically revoked. So is their appointment as attorney-in-fact in your Power of Attorney, if applicable.
If you die during a divorce in Minnesota, your will is executed as if your spouse had predeceased you. This means that your assets will bypass your spouse and go straight to contingent beneficiaries. Still, you may want to modify those beneficiaries based on your circumstances – more on that later.
Change What You Can
In Minnesota, there are no laws against modifying your will during a divorce. You can – and should – make changes as soon as you and your spouse separate. Your primary goal when modifying your will should be to distribute your pre-marital assets exactly as you wish now that you don’t have your spouse’s opinion to consider. There may be benefits to changing you will at a certain time, so you should consult a Minnesota estate planning attorney to discuss when and how to modify it. Don’t assume things will be easier if you wait until your divorce is finalized, though. If you pass away before making changes, you’ll leave it up to the courts to decide how to distribute your assets.
Wait Until After Divorce for The Rest
There are certain things that absolutely cannot be changed during a divorce. You cannot modify accounts in an attempt to get a leg up on your spouse during the divorce. If you hope to change your beneficiary on life insurance, retirement accounts, or your pension, you aren’t legally permitted to make those changes until your divorce is finalized (or far enough in advance of divorce proceedings during pre-divorce planning).
If you own your life insurance policy, you are responsible for paying the premiums to keep the policy active. If your spouse usually pays the bills, make sure you’re on the same page about this; you wouldn’t want your policy to lapse because neither of you is making payments while you deal with the divorce.
You should always consult your Edina Minnesota divorce attorney before making any changes to your estate planning documents. All of your accounts are considered one package during mediation, so making changes to your estate plan can slow down and complicate the process.
If you’ve yet to choose an Edina divorce and estate planning attorney for your divorce, give Beth Barbosa a call at (612) 564-0137 to learn how her unique professional approach can benefit you and your family.