Your Parents’ Estates

In some cases, you may be named as a beneficiary under the estate planning documents of a parent or other relative. If that parent or relative dies while you are still married, you become entitled to your portion of their estate. If you then die before the divorce is final, your interest in their estate becomes part of your estate, and is available to your surviving spouse. Under most states elective share statutes, even if you attempt to write your spouse out of your will, he or she would still be entitled to a percentage of your estate, including your share of your relative’s estate. If this is a potential concern for you, the best way to avoid the problem is to have your parents or relatives, while still living, amend their estate planning documents so that your share of their estate goes into a trust for your benefit, rather than going directly to you. You can be designated as the sole beneficiary of such a trust without it being reachable by your spouse. That way, if something happens to you while your divorce is pending, your share of the estate can pass directly to your intended beneficiaries, and not to your estranged spouse. If this situation applies to you, you should urge your parents or other relative to seek the advice of their estate planning attorney to make the appropriate changes.



Suggested Reading
Divorce & Money: How to Make the Best Financial Decisions
This book is a practical guide to evaluating assets during divorce. It explains how to determine the real value of marital property including houses, businesses, retirement plans and investments and how to negotiate a settlement that is fair to both sides.

Authors: Violet Woodhouse & Dale Fetherling


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