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What happens to inheritances when going through a divorce?

Estate plans are important for Florida residents as they plan for their future. Estate plans help people make their intentions clear when it comes to how they want to divide their property following their death. These plans often divide property between a person's spouse, children and grandchildren. It is meant to help a person's family after the person has passed. These estate plans can give inheritances that include real estate, cash, life insurance policies and other assets to a person's heirs.

However, estate planning documents are not static. In other words, a person's estate planning needs change over time. Therefore, it is important for people to revise their estate plans over time to make sure that they fit with the person's current needs. This could be a revision to ensure that a new asset is properly dealt with, or it could be to update the person's heirs.

Reexamining an estate plan is particularity important following a divorce. In many cases, people will craft their estate plan around their spouse. People will often give all their property to their spouse in their will or their spouse in a will or trust. However, following a divorce, it is unlikely that people will be as interested in giving their assets to their former spouse.

If the estate planning documents are not updated, however, an ex-spouse could receive assets that the decedent wasn't intending to give. Additionally, following a divorce, people may have different assets than they had before the split. Different estate planning tools may be of use in this new situation.

An estate planning attorney can help people following a divorce. An attorney can help people evaluate their new estate and create an estate plan that best fits a person's new needs. This can include picking new heirs to the estate.

Source: The Florida Bar Journal, "Every Divorcing Client Needs Estate Planning," Jeffery A. Baskies, Dec. 2006 (revised Feb. 10, 2012)

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