Estate planning plays an important role in making sure loved ones are provided for in case the unexpected happens. It is an important task for married couples and helps to ensure that both they and their children are protected. However, when getting a divorce in Illinois, estate planning is something that can easily get overlooked. Find out more about how divorce impacts your estate plan and the steps you can take to update these documents in the aftermath. 

Estate Planning in Marriage

Estate planning documents protect your assets, ensure your loved ones are provided for, and can help you avoid lengthy and potentially expensive Illinois probate court proceedings. Estate planning in marriage typically includes: 

  • A will: Your will provides an inventory of all property and assets, designates beneficiaries, and determines how distributions are made. 
  • A trust: Creating a trust is useful in Medicaid planning and in providing more detailed arrangements for the care of loved ones.  
  • Other beneficiary designations: Your spouse is likely your beneficiary on life insurance policies and bank accounts. 
  • Powers of attorney: You may have given your spouse authority to make important legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. 

While your top priority may have been providing for your spouse during your marriage, this is likely not the case now that you are getting a divorce. 

Estate Planning and Divorce

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Statutes, your spouse will automatically lose certain rights in regards to inheritances and making decisions on your behalf once your divorce is finalized. However, before a final order is issued, they are still considered your closest next of kin and are automatically entitled to a major portion of your property and assets. In addition to updating the above, it is important to review the following: 

  • Titles on property: This should be addressed during divorce and in negotiating a settlement. 
  • Retirement benefits: You may be entitled to a portion of these funds but will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to access them. 
  • Advance directives: Advance directives in Illinois authorize others to make important medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make these decisions on your own and dictate the type and extent of end-of-life care you desire.  
  • Estate administration: If you named your spouse as your personal representative or estate administrator in your will, you will want to change this during your divorce. 

Discuss Your Case With Our Illinois Divorce and Estate Planning Attorneys

As experienced Illinois divorce and estate planning attorneys, Andrea Heckman Law can guide you in making needed changes to estate planning documents during your divorce. To discuss your case, call or contact our office online and request a consultation today.