What Happens to an Estate Plan During a Divorce?
Divorce is a legal action that does far more than just end your marriage. Divorce also disentangles your financial connection, including the estate plan you created while married. An estate plan is a financial tool that delineates to whom your assets will be distributed upon your passing. Divorce naturally complicates the issue. If you are facing a divorce and have estate-plan concerns, consult with a knowledgeable Kansas divorce attorney with considerable experience in estate planning law.
Elective Share in Kansas
In the State of Kansas, if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to a specific portion of his or her deceased spouse’s estate, and that amount is predicated upon the number of years the couple was married. This remains true even if the deceased spouse leaves a valid will to the contrary (for a lesser amount). This is based on Kansas’s presumption – as an equitable distribution state – that both spouses contribute to the marital estate and that both are entitled to a certain percentage of it. This is the way Kansas prevents one spouse from disinheriting the other. Things are different, however, for divorced couples.
The Division of Marital Assets and Financial Tools
When a couple divorces in Kansas, the assets they acquired as a married couple must be divided between them. If the couple can’t come to an agreement regarding this division, the court, with its vast discretion, will make the determination for them. A couple’s assets include the financial instruments that make up their financial portfolio, including:
- Life insurance policies
- Trust funds
- Retirement benefits
While Kansas law requires judges to include changes regarding the beneficiary status of these assets as part of the division of marital property in a divorce, and to note the change in the divorce decree, this judicial act does not actually change the beneficiary status of the instruments themselves. This you must do with the bank or insurance company yourself.
Divorce and the Revocation of Inheritance Status
In Kansas, the inheritance status of your spouse (in your estate plan) is revoked upon divorce. Your ex will not be allowed to pursue an elective share, and Kansas has laws in place that will automatically revoke any inheritance to your former spouse that is in your estate plan. The reasoning behind this is the assumption that the deceased wouldn’t have intended for his or her bequest to survive the divorce and that the ex-spouse received his or her allotment of the marital estate at the time of divorce. If you are separated or have recently divorced, however, it is a good time to revisit and update your estate plan.
If You Are Facing Divorce and Have Concerns Regarding Your Estate Plan, Consult with an Experienced Kansas Family Law Attorney Today
The division of marital property is one of the most complicated components of any divorce, and a diverse financial portfolio complicates the issue further. The dedicated family law attorneys at Stockton & Stern, LLC in Gardner and Overland Park, Kansas, have extensive experience in estate planning and are here to help you. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today.