Protecting your estate assets from your ex-wife or ex-husband and their relatives is something that should be addressed after you divorce. Depending on the terms of your divorce settlement, it may be necessary to remove your ex from the title of your house or on other real estate through divorce court as well as from joint bank or other financial accounts and credit card accounts. You will probably want to close the joint bank accounts or financial institution accounts and establish new ones in your own name.
Your will should also be updated by either amending it with what is called a codicil or revoking it in its entirety and creating a new will. Be sure to revoke any power of attorney giving your ex-spouse the power to act as your attorney-in-fact. Also, updating your health care directives is suggested. If you have a life insurance policy and it is not included as part of your divorce property settlement, then you should also change the named beneficiary. The same goes for any retirement plans that are not part of your divorce settlement agreement. A New York estate planning attorney can assist you with these matters.
To protect your assets from your ex-spouse, you should also think about creating a New York trust. By having a valid trust in place, you have the protection that your ex-spouse or the beneficiaries of your ex-spouse do not have any claim or interest to your estate after you pass away. With a trust, they will not know the value of your estate. Having a trust and/or a will also means that you get to decide who inherits your assets and your beneficiaries and heirs do not have to establish a probate with the New York probate court.
Keep in mind that any assets that you acquire after you establish the trust, could be subject to probate if they are held in your sole name. Therefore, you will want to transfer any newly acquired assets to the trust as well.
If you want to protect your assets from creditors, then you may wish to establish an irrevocable trust. However, with an irrevocable trust, you are no longer in charge of managing the assets. Before you decide to make a trust or make any changes to your existing estate plan, you should consult with a New York probate and estate attorney.
A New York trust and estate planning attorney also represents estates, executors, heirs, beneficiaries, creditors and other parties with an interest to a New York estate, handles probate, estate and trust administration matters, dispute resolution between the beneficiaries and the executor of a New York estate, estate litigation and estate tax matters. If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.