Divorce and Estate Planning in Cobb County, Georgia

Divorce and Estate Planning in Cobb County, Georgia


Marietta and Cobb County, Georgia, estate planning attorney and divorce lawyer Steve Worrall reminds us that when a divorce—also called a dissolution of marriage—is imminent, meeting with an estate planning attorney in Cobb County, GA, is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of things to do.  But, it very well should be.  Keep in mind that divorces can take a fairly long time (months or even years) to complete.  It makes sense to consider what would become of your assets, or even your physical self, if you should become incapacitated or die before the divorce has been finalized.

If you do not take steps to change your estate plan in light of an impending divorce, then your soon-to-be ex may still be entitled to everything that was agreed upon when it was originally drawn up (or as the courts deem appropriate if no estate plan is in place).  This means that if he or she has your medical power of attorney, all of your medical decisions will be in the hands of someone who may not have your best interests in mind.  Likewise, if you are incapacitated and your spouse has power over your finances, it’s possible that you will not be happy with the outcome.

Another concern comes up if you and your spouse are co-trustees on various trusts or other accounts.  Again, if you become incapacitated, the spouse could access and use all kinds of property that you would not want him or her to have access to.  This becomes a real worry when you realize that this person could actually buy or sell property or even take out loans without your consent.

And, if you have inherited or stand to inherit from your parents, another potential problem arises.  Should you pass away before the divorce is final, your inheritance may legally pass directly to the person you were in the process of trying to get out of your life.  Even if you have assets that would be passed directly to your minor children, without a proper estate plan in place, the courts will likely put your ex in charge of any money or other property that you leave them.

In order to protect your interests during a divorce, it makes good sense to talk with your estate planning attorney.  A qualified will attorney in Cobb County can offer advice on where you may be vulnerable.  You may need to work with him or her quickly in order to revoke the appropriate documents, and keep in mind that you might need to contact various institutions personally to ensure they are aware of the revocation.

An estate planning attorney who is familiar with the laws specific to Georgia is the best option for ensuring that you are protecting yourself both during and after a divorce in Georgia.

Top 5 Estate Planning Tips for the Newly Divorced from a Cobb County Divorce Lawyer

Tip #1: Update your will immediately.

This may not be top-of-mind, but updating your will is extremely important if you are going through a divorce.  Having your assets go to your ex can be like adding insult to injury…and can tie up your estate for years to come.

Tip #2: Update your life insurance policy and retirement beneficiaries.

Actor Dennis Hopper was in the middle of a highly contentious divorce when he died.  Since he didn’t change his life insurance policy beneficiaries, his ex received the proceeds.  Be sure to name new beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts so your ex doesn’t inherit your assets.

Tip #3: Do not wait until the divorce is final.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to wait until your divorce is final to update your estate planning documents.  If your divorce is likely to drag on for months or even years, you can still protect your assets from your ex by updating your estate plan.

Tip #4: Revisit your choice of executor and trustee.

While your ex may become the legal guardian of any minor children if you die, he or she should not necessarily be named as executor of your will or the trustee of your children’s inheritance.

Tip #5: Update your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

If you do not want your ex making decisions about your health care, you should update your durable power of attorney for health care as well as your living will.  This also applies to any other advance directives that name your ex as a decision maker.

If you’d like to learn more about estate planning and asset protection and how it affects you in a divorce case in Georgia, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next five people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call us at 770.425.6060 today and mention this article.