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What happens to your Will when you divorce?

When decide to hire a matrimonial attorney in New York to obtain a divorce, you understand some of the complication that will occur. You will no longer be living with your spouse. This may entail your finding a new place to live, or perhaps they will move out and you will retain the family residence. Or you both may determine that holding on to the current residence is unrealistic or unnecessary.

If you have a minor child or children, there will be much discussion of their custody arrangements, if one parent will have primary custody, or if there will be joint custody. Other custody determinations will involve where the child or children will live and what their schedule will look like, which in turn will be influenced by their school needs and the availability of day care or extracurricular activities. 

This may lead to a very complex parenting plan, including birthdays, times in school, holidays and summer, winter and spring breaks or other vacation time. Such a plan will also need to have a process for decision-making and contingences.

But there are other areas that you may not recognize as further adding to your complexity.

How will your divorce affect your estate planning, including wills, trusts, heath care directives and life insurance?

The basic law in New York is governed by N.Y. EPT. LAW § 5-1.4, which is the section of the Estate, Powers and Trust Law that deals with the revocation of many estate planning instruments upon a divorce.

This law prevents your assets from inadvertently transferring to your former spouse if you neglected to create a new will after your judgment of divorce is effective. While it prevents that unfortunate occurrence, it does not prevent other unfortunate events from taking place, included unplanned tax affects on your estate.

As part of  your divorce, you and your matrimonial attorney should discuss the potential estate planning effects of your divorce and ensure that you have properly updated all of your planning documents to reflect your post-divorce status.

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