Creating an estate plan to protect your minor children is one of the most difficult—and most important—things you will ever do; this is especially true if you and your child’s other parent are separated or divorced. Relationships don’t always end amicably, but if you do have children it is definitely worthwhile to put aside your differences with your ex long enough to discuss estate planning for the sake of your kids.

There are three major things to consider when estate planning during or after a divorce:

1. Guardianship: According to the law, if you pass away guardianship passes to your child’s other biological parent; this is the case even if you had full custody (unless it is determined that the surviving parent is unfit). This is something to keep in mind when you are nominating guardians. If you and your ex can sit down and discuss guardians together and agree on a few alternates it will make everyone (including your child) feel more secure about the future.

2. Financial Inheritance: Although many divorced couples may feel comfortable with their ex as guardian, most are dead set against their ex having any control over their finances. How then can you leave your estate for the benefit of your child without leaving it in the hands of your ex? The solution is to put your child’s inheritance in trust until they come of age, with a person you know and trust acting as trustee. Your trustee will have the responsibility to keep and maintain the trust, giving distributions to the guardian for the benefit of your child. Keep in mind that your trustee and guardian will have to work together quite often, if you and your ex can agree on someone with whom you both are comfortable it will make the process much easier on your trustee, your ex, and your child.

3. Remarriage: When you marry there is an inevitable mingling of finances, and this is no different for a second or third marriage. However, if you don’t make provisions for your children in your estate plan your assets will end up going entirely to your new spouse when you die, leaving your child(ren) out in the cold. This can be easily addressed in your estate plan (or your ex’s estate plan, if he or she is the one getting remarried) as long as you talk to your attorney and take action now, before it’s too late.

If you are going through or have gone through a divorce please call our office and let us help.

If you are going through, or have gone through a divorce, please call Ilene L. McCauley at 480.296.2036for help in navigating through these important and sensitive issues.

Ilene L. McCauley and Frederick H. Goldinov are licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. The law firm of Goldinov & McCauley, PLC provides legal services for clients in the State of Arizona. The information provided on this website and our blog is general and educational in nature and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor does the use of the website create an attorney/client relationship. Laws of specific states or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy or completeness of this information which cannot take the place of one-on-one personal legal consultation and advice. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. No legal representation is created, and we make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. Neither the authors nor anyone forwarding or reproducing this work shall have any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website or blog.