Going through a separation is confusing, stressful, and often overwhelming. Estate planning is not a subject that comes up frequently. Very often, as couples make the decision to get separated and then divorced, they are concerned with the most pressing things: making sure the children are cared for, paying the bills on time, deciding who will live where. There are a lot of moving parts to coordinate, not to mention that emotions are often running high.
In this high-pressure environment, it’s only natural that things fall through the cracks. There are just some things that seem too remote, too unimportant, or too confusing to handle in the middle of a divorce. Especially if those things cost money and take time.
Unfortunately, thinking about estate planning is definitely one of those things that fall through the cracks during separations. I do understand. Who would want to meet with yet another lawyer to talk in hypotheticals? But think of it this way: if something bad happens to you or your ex during the separation or divorce process, don’t you want to know that there is a plan in place to care for your children, to manage your assets, and to resolve any debts? These very real issues don’t get put on hold just because you are going through a stressful time. In fact, any potential conflicts around these topics are amplified during a divorce. A carefully thought out and executed plan can be a life-saver.
Divorce Creates Major Changes in Your Plans
Whether or not you have already gone through the estate planning process with your former spouse, having a few simple documents in place during the divorce process can make all the difference. If you’ve done this before, think back to the decisions you and your ex made when you were drafting your estate plans together. Do those decisions still stand? Or would you rather someone other than your ex have the financial power of attorney over your assets? Would you want someone else to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf?
If those decisions aren’t the same as the ones you would make today, it’s time for an update. At The Tyra Law Firm, we are always talking about the “triggering events” that should remind clients to come in and complete or update their estate plan. We call these triggering events because, when they occur, they often cause major shifts in a person’s financial, familial, and medical preferences. When it comes to life events that create these shifts, divorce is the top of the list.
Estate Planning Can Actually Help You Get Organized and Feel Calmer
If you are already starting to glaze over, thinking, “But I just don’t have time! I don’t have the money! I can’t think about this right now!” you are not alone. But I encourage you to consider this: estate planning is a process of writing things down, getting things organized, and making a clearly defined plan. I won’t pretend that estate planning is easy, and I often have to ask my clients some tough questions. However, without fail, every time I meet with a client they leave with more clarity, feeling more in control, and with a major weight lifted off of their shoulders. Why? Estate planning is all about dissolving those little “what if” worries that swirl around in our heads all day. We take the time to look at the potential problems head-on and address them. In the midst of the uncertainty of divorce, creating an estate plan can be a grounding, clarifying experience.
But, What if More Change is on the Horizon?
As you navigate your divorce, you are inhabiting a world of uncertainty. Things are constantly changing, and more change likely lies ahead. Often, potential clients will say to me, “I want to wait to start my estate plan until things are a little more settled.” I understand the impulse. You don’t want to go through this whole process and then pay to have it updated again once the divorce is finalized! Well, that actually is exactly what you should do. Unfortunately, we don’t get to decide when bad things happen. Accidents, illness, and death arrive at inconvenient times. Waiting until things are “settled” often leads to families being unprepared when the unexpected occurs.
However, at the Tyra Law Firm, we have structured our estate planning services in a way that solves this common problem. Because we know things are constantly changing, we include FREE estate plan reviews as a part of our service. That means we are happy to work with you now to get a simple estate plan up and running as soon as possible. Then, in the future, we will meet with you at no charge to you to revisit your estate plan, identify areas where it needs to be expanded, updated, or improved, and then we only charge for the changes! Think of estate planning as a phased process that occurs over a lifetime. Your estate planning documents should always be changing and growing with you. You don’t expect the rest of your life to remain the same as it is now, so why should your estate plan be stagnant?
Tyra Law Firm is Here to Help
It’s a tumultuous time in your life and in the world right now. Things feel wildly uncertain. But in these uncertain times, there is nothing more centering and calming than creating a plan. That’s our specialty here at the Tyra Law Firm. Our superpower is to help you make sense of uncertainty, get organized, and make a plan. Trust us, it helps a lot. If you are ready to get started on your estate plan, give our office a call!