While divorce may end a marriage, it doesn't always end legal agreements
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, a current New York case is showing how divorce can have some unexpected financial risks even after a marriage is dissolved. In the case, the family of a deceased woman is fighting the family of her ex-husband over the inheritance of the woman's house. This case should remind anybody currently going through a divorce about the many financial implications that dissolving a marriage entails and why it is of such importance to reach out for professional help every step of the way.
Will not changed
The New York court case shows how divorce and estate planning often intersect. The case involves the family of a woman who passed away in 2010 and had divorced her husband in 2007. Her Last Will & Testament, however, was written in 1996 and had made her husband the primary beneficiary of a $200,000 home, and named her father-in-law at the time the secondary beneficiary.
Under New York law, once the woman's divorce was finalized, her then ex-husband could no longer be considered a beneficiary. However, the divorce did not mean that her former father-in-law was also cut out of the will. Despite the home having been in the woman's family for generations, a lower court recently upheld the 1996 Last Will & Testament and ruled that the former father-in-law was the legitimate beneficiary of the house. That decision is now being appealed by the woman's family.
This case is a reminder of just how complicated legal and financial issues surrounding divorce can become. As USA Today reports, one of the biggest money mistakes people going through a divorce make is focusing on short-term goals at the expense of long-term ones.
Divorce is an emotionally difficult period for most people, which can make it difficult to think about what is in a person's long-term interests. In order to keep a rational mind throughout the process and get the best advice possible, professional advice is invaluable. Financial advisers, for example, can inform a divorcing party about possible tax implications, issues involving estate planning and the other financial matters of a divorce. Experts, however, caution that divorcing spouses should not share the same financial adviser as it may present a potential conflict of interest.
Just as expert financial help is so important during divorce, so too is qualified legal advice. As the above New York case shows, a seemingly minor point of law can end up having major consequences for families.
For anybody going through a divorce, the best approach is to contact a family law attorney today. Through hard work and experience, the right attorney can help a divorcing client understand what options are available and what may be the best course of action to protect his or her assets and interests.