When a Pennsylvania resident is going through a divorce, it can sometimes be hard to think pragmatically. Divorce is a very emotional time, and often, a person's thoughts are wrapped up in divorce legal issues such as child custody and property division. However, if one is going through a divorce, they will also want to think about their estate planning needs as well.
First, when a person files for divorce, they will also want to revisit their will. Chances are that they may have left certain assets to their ex. As they are no longer in a relationship with their ex, they will most likely want to change their will appropriately. Also, if an ex is listed as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy or financial account, this will need to be updated.
When a person is going through a divorce they may be surprised that they still can receive a portion of their ex's retirement accounts. There are legal processes that need to be followed for a person to claim what they are due from their ex's retirement accounts. Once the accounts are appropriately divided, each party will want to designate a beneficiary to these accounts in accordance with their desired estate plan.
Perhaps the worst thing to do though, is to not plan at all. One Gallup poll conducted in 2016 found that almost 60 percent of respondents did not have an estate plan. Whether one is married or divorced, without a will or trust in place, their estate will have to go through the probate process, which can be difficult on their loved ones. So when it comes to a major life event such as a divorce, it is important to establish a new estate plan or revisit an existing one in order to properly reflect one's wishes post-divorce. If necessary, a legal professional experienced in estate planning and probate may be consulted.