Commedia e’ Finita -How a Pending Divorce Affects Your Estate Planning
Robin Williams’ tragic suicide on August 11, 2014 shocked the country. Unlike a long illness, a sudden death often finds the survivors unprepared. This can be particularly true if the deceased leaves behind a former spouse, a surviving spouse, and children of two or more marriages or relationships.
One of the most important things a Louisiana resident can do in planning for divorce is to discuss with his lawyer what would happen to his death benefits if he dies before his divorce and property settlement are finalized. Married couples often have life insurance on each other’s lives or on the life of the breadwinner. Most have designated each other as primary beneficiary and named children as alternate beneficiaries. Your divorce attorney can tell you how a pending divorce affects your estate planning under Louisiana law.
As part of your pre-divorce planning, you should review your life insurance policies and make sure that your designated beneficiaries are the ones you want to receive the proceeds. Likewise, as you think about how to divide your marital property, consider the impact on survivors if you and a former spouse continue to co-own real estate such as the former family home. Discuss with your lawyer what happens to your 401K if you die before you retire and before it has been partitioned in your property settlement. Divorce and death have things in common. Be prepared to face both of them.