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Relationship Breakups & Changing Your Estate Plan


Life often throws us a curve ball, and amidst the emotional pain of a relationship break up it can be difficult to think about making sure that your legal and financial ownership documents including your will, trust and powers of attorney are in order and do not include your ex-partner or ex-spouse’s name.

Permanent relationship breakups such as as divorce will require many significant changes which could include moving out of your house, deciding how items of furniture and other personal property will be split up, and arranging for child custody and visitation if children are involved. After the divorce, you may need assistance separating and re-titling your finances and other valuables into your name alone or your ex-partner’s name alone. Our Oak Brook Attorneys can assist you with re-titling assets after a breakup, including real estate, valuable personal property, vehicles, financial securities and other assets, as well as drafting a new estate plan for you.

If you are not divorced but are separated or have an estranged spouse, you should take immediate action to protect yourself by giving your loved ones authority over your health care decisions and finances in the event you become suddenly disabled or are unable to communicate. The tragic story of Terri Schiavo and her death gives a warning to those who survived her. Terri, who was in a permanent, vegetative state after suffering heart failure in 1990, did not have any advanced healthcare directives such as a power of attorney for healthcare which would have given her parents authority over her healthcare decisions. Tragically, the Court allowed her estranged husband rather than Terri’s parents to make the health care decision to have Terri deprived of food and water and end her life in 2005. The fact that he was estranged from her since 1991 and that he had a live-in girlfriend did not stop the Court from giving her estranged husband the single authority over her in a life-and-death healthcare deicion, and Terri’s parents’ wishes were cast aside.

Consider the following:

  • Do you own joint accounts or assets with your ex-partner or ex-spouse which needs to be re-titled into one of your names alone? For example, bank accounts, mutual funds, vehicles, real estate, etc.

  • Do you own a home or other real estate with your ex-partner or ex-spouse which needs to be re-titled in one of your names alone?

  • Do you already have an estate plan which names your ex-partner or ex-spouse as:

  • a Beneficiary? For example, a beneficiary of your will, living trust, testamentary trust, annuity, IRA account, life insurance policy or other account which will leave your money to them upon your death?

  • Executor or successor executor of your will?

  • Trustee or successor trustee of your trust?

  • Agent or successor agent having power of attorney over your healthcare decisions?

  • Agent or successor agent having power of attorney over your finances?

  • Do you need an estate plan to name new beneficiaries of your will, new executors, new agents with power of attorney for healthcare and finances?

If you have questions about the application of the law in a particular case, consult your lawyer. The law is constantly changing. Information on this site or any site to which we link does not constitute legal advice.


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