Do you really want your "ex" to make your health care decisions?
I did not think so.
But what if you and your spouse separated, but not divorced?
Whether you are planning to divorce or are merely content living in a separated state, you will likely prefer someone else make your health care decisions.
According to a recent Forbes article titled “Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain And Estate Planning When You Are Separated,” there are legal implications if you choose not to divorce when it comes to estate planning.
Potentially life and death big implications.
Without updating your estate plan, your spouse will likely remain a major beneficiary.
If you have no children, then your spouse may inherit everything.
What if you intentionally "disinherit" your spouse?
Problems there, too.
Depending on the laws of your state, your spouse may be entitled to half.
Note: The Sunflower State of Kansas is rather unique in this regard. A surviving spouse is entitled to a sliding scale percentage based on the number of years married. Vesting at 50 percent does not occur until the marriage has lasted 15 years.
Would you be surprised to learn that your spouse will also be in charge of your funeral arrangements.
In light of all of this, what should you do?
Update your estate plan.
Update your will, living trust, and any beneficiary designations.
You will also want to create a new Advance Health Care Directive?
You probably do not want an estranged spouse deciding what treatments you receive (or do not receive, let alone pain management).
This document also allows you to designate the health care agent and provide guidance regarding what happens to your body after you pass, to include autopsy, organ donation, disposition of your remains.
Be sure all necessary parties have a copy.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create or update your plan to meet your specific circumstances.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Forbes (June 12, 2018) “Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain And Estate Planning When You Are Separated”