Charlotte Estate Planning and Divorce Lawyers
Guiding North Carolina clients through the effects of divorce on estate planning
Divorce is definitely an overwhelming process. In addition to all the big things to think about – child custody, child support or spousal support – there are also many smaller details that many of us put aside. However, it’s important to ensure you don’t put some of these off for too long, especially matters of estate planning. There are certain documents you must update or change before your divorce is finalized.
With the help of the dependable Charlotte divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC, you can update your estate planning documents to ensure your assets are protected both before and after your divorce. We’ll protect your rights throughout the process and ensure paperwork is filled out both properly and on time. Call us today to set up a consultation.
Why should I change my estate documents before my Charlotte divorce?
You may or may not have a will, stating who will be the beneficiary of your estate upon your death. However, once you marry, the law allows your spouse certain rights to your estate, whether or not you have a will. Even if you are separated or your divorce is not finalized, under North Carolina G.S. Chapter 29, your spouse is entitled to the right to:
- Intestate succession in the estate of the other spouse (when the spouse dies without a will)
- Claim or succeed to a homestead in real property
- Petition for an elective share of the estate of the other spouse, in the event the living spouse doesn’t agree with the Last Will & Testament
- Any year’s allowance in the personal property of the other spouse
- Administer the estate of the other spouse
If you have any concerns about your will or any estate planning documents, our family law attorneys can consult with you and provide knowledgeable guidance.
What estate planning documents should I update?
It’s important to review and update just about all estate planning documents, but some are vitally important to take a look at before separating or divorcing, including:
- Jointly owned property. Typically, marital property is sold or titles are re-assigned during a divorce. But if they aren’t, you’ll need to update your estate planning documents.
- Joint trusts. Joint trusts will also need to updated, or changed to single-person trusts during the divorce process.
- Life insurance. Update your beneficiary designations. However, if you have children or your ex-spouse will still be dependent on you financially, you can still leave money for them through your life insurance. In some cases, you may be required to use your life insurance for child support or alimony.
- Retirement. If you accrued funds in your retirement account during your marriage, they count as marital property. You may be required to leave at least 50% to your spouse, and many retirement plans won’t allow you to change your beneficiaries without a court order or waiver in the event of a divorce.
- Wills and revocable trusts. In North Carolina, a separation has no effect on your will or trust. If the death of one spouse happens before the divorce, the other spouse will inherit whatever is outlined in the will. An irrevocable trust, however, many remain valid, as it’s similar to a contract.
If you don’t have a will and are considering separation or divorce, it’s important to make one now. Our family law attorneys can assist you.
When should I update my Charlotte estate plan?
This answer is different for everyone’s personal situation, but there are four general periods when you may review or update your estate planning documents. The attorneys here at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can consult with you to decide when updating your documents is right for you.
I’m separated but haven’t signed a separation agreement
This is a good time to review your estate planning documents. Even though you’re still legally married to your spouse, you’re under no court proceedings to prevent you from updating these documents. Consider having your lawyers update retirement and life insurance beneficiaries, revoke and replace your power of attorney, and update your living will.
I signed a separation agreement but I’m not legally divorced
If you have a signed separation agreement, it’s effectively the same as a divorce judgment. It doesn’t mean you’re legally divorced, but a signed separation agreement from your Charlotte divorce lawyer terminates most of your marital status and rights. So, if you have a separation agreement in place, you can go ahead with your estate planning.
I’m in the middle of divorce proceedings
If you or your spouse has already filed for divorce, it’s not to your advantage to move around any of your assets or begin dramatically changing your estate documents. When an individual begins moving assets around during divorce proceedings, it can send up red flags to the spouse, their attorney and the court.
However, you should still consult with your Charlotte divorce and estate planning attorney to discuss your options in revoking or updating your estate plan, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.
My divorce is finalized by the court
After you’re legally divorced, you can update or amend any of your estate planning documents. Remember, however, if any legal actions are pending for spousal support or property distribution, you should proceed with caution. Ensure all issues are resolved by court order and signed agreement before making any changes that would affect any pending actions.
If you’re considering separation or divorce, it’s important to review your estate planning documents so you understand the implication the divorce process will have on you, your children and your ex-spouse – especially if you suddenly pass away or become incapacitated during the process. Our legal team can help.
Dependable Charlotte estate planning and divorce attorneys
During a divorce, it’s essential you protect what matters most. Reviewing and updating your estate plan can ensure your estate is distributed in the way you intend. The Charlotte divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can review your estate plan documents with you and provide skilled legal guidance. Get in touch with us today. You’ll find our offices right off Exit 57 from I-485. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.