Powers of Attorney
Key Points
  • In a marriage most spouses have each other handle estate planning matters such as administering the Durable Power of Attorney. However, Durable Powers of Attorney can be used against an ex-spouse to transfer assets, take out loans, or make financial decisions. Make sure you change the designation for who you have listed as the person who can make these decisions.
  • You may want to record any revocation of any power of attorney to have it of public record. If there is an instance of mishandling of funds, this record can be shown to financial institutions or other organizations as proof your spouse does not have the authority to make decisions on your behalf.

If you have previously done estate planning, you have probably given your spouse a Durable Power of Attorney to handle your affairs. In the divorce context, Durable Powers of Attorney are loaded guns. There have been numerous instances where estranged spouses have used such Durable Powers of Attorney to transfer their spouse’s assets to them, take out loans in the name of their spouse, etc. If you have given your spouse a durable power of attorney, you should consider revoking it immediately so that it cannot be used in an unintended fashion. Check with a qualified estate planning attorney to make sure you follow your state s rules for revoking a power of attorney. In most states, banks and other third parties can rely upon a power of attorney unless they have notice that it has been revoked. If you are concerned that your spouse may attempt to use the power of attorney without your permission, you should consider notifying all your financial institutions that the power of attorney has been revoked. It is often a good idea to record the revocation in the public records.

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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DYING INTESTATE -- A failure to make a will can cost loved ones money (in taxes that can be avoided). And at the least, property distribution under the laws of intestacy slows the settlement of an estate. For most couples, a mirror-image will (all to him from her, all to her from him) is easy and inexpensive.

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