1. If a divorcing spouse is ordered to maintain
life insurance for the benefit of the former spouse, he or she should
consider assigning the ownership of the policy to the former spouse
named as the beneficiary.
2. A divorcing client should be advised to change
the beneficiaries of his or her individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
before judgment is entered.
3. A divorcing client should be advised to
consider revoking IRA beneficiary designations at any early date.
4. A divorcing client should be advised to have a
new will prepared as soon as the divorce proceeding is concluded.
5. If the parties hold property in a living
trust, the trust should be revoked as soon as the divorce proceeding
6. Joint tenancies should always be severed as
early in the divorce proceeding as possible.
7. If you have performed estate planning services
for both parties, you should not advise either party about estate
planning issues during their divorce.
8. A divorcing party may revoke, but not change,
a beneficiary designation naming the other spouse as the sole
beneficiary of a 401(k) plan during the divorce.
9. To revoke a living trust, a written revocation
must be signed by the settlor, acknowledged by a notary public and
delivered to the trustees.
10. Revocation of a living trust automatically
retransfers title to trust property to the parties.
11. Most wills and living trusts prepared by
married couples in the pre-divorce stage of their marriage provide
that virtually all of the assets pass to the surviving spouse on the
death of either spouse.
12. The beneficiary designations of 401(k) plans
and IRAs may both be revoked by the participant, acting unilaterally,
during the divorce.
13. If an insurance policy is owned by one party
and names the former spouse as beneficiary following the divorce, the
insured's estate will pay the estate tax and the policy proceeds
will pass to the former spouse as the beneficiary.
14. The written consent of the other party or an
order of court is required before existing joint tenancies may be
severed during divorce.
15. All discussions and decisions reached by a
client regarding estate planning issues should be documented in
16. The act of filing a divorce petition revokes
a spouse's rights under the will of the other party.
17. If you have performed estate planning
services for only one spouse, you may continue to represent and advise
that spouse during the dissolution proceeding.
18. A judgment dissolving the status of the
marriage revokes a surviving spouse's rights under a prior will.
19. A living trust may be executed and funded by
either party during a divorce without the approval of the other party
or the court.
20. To revoke an existing IRA beneficiary
designation naming the other spouse is undesirable because doing so
would subject the assets to probate administration.