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How to Protect Yourself During your Divorce

Posted by Judy Nakashima Shoji | Mar 03, 2020 | 0 Comments

During divorce, many people worry about their children and their finances.  However, many people fail to prepare for their illness or death before the divorce is finalized. There are 4 questions that everyone going through a divorce should be considering, but rarely do:

  • What happens if I die before my divorce is final?
  • How can I protect my children?
  • How can I protect myself?
  • How can I make sure that my share of the property goes to the people that I want it to go to, rather than my future ex-spouse?

Most people do not realize that if they unable to make their own health care and/or financial decisions because of incapacity, their future ex-spouse will get to decide.  So executing or updating your Durable Power of Attorney documents is important. 

Many people also fail to understand that if they should die during the divorce process without properly planning for it, their future ex-spouse will inherit their community property portion of your estate because he or she is still technically your spouse until the divorce decree is final. 

Additionally, if you have a Will prepared during the marriage where you named your spouse as the beneficiary, and the divorce is not finalized, then your future ex-spouse will certainly inherit everything they are entitled to under the Will and, as in most marital Wills, if you nominated your future ex-spouse to serve as your personal representative but fail to amend the court may have no other choice to allow him or her to serve in this role and administer your estate.  One can only image how difficult it may be for your family, friends, heirs and beneficiaries to communicate with and get along with your future ex-spouse but, more importantly, having your future ex-spouse administering your assets it may make it difficult for your children or other heirs to get the property distribution that you intended.

It is worthwhile to immediately change your will, even if it is temporary.  Doing so immediately upon separation or filing for divorce will allow you to maintain control and allow you to determine who should receive your estate in the event you become ill or do not live through the divorce proceeding

About the Author

Judy Nakashima Shoji

Judy prides herself on being approachable, down to earth and willing to answer any questions hr clients may have. She is a Seattle native. She attended the University of Washington, Tokyo University and Seattle University School of Law. She was a legal intern in the Civil Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office and at Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company located in Shinjuku, Japan. Judy advises clients in all aspects of estate planning, probate and adoptions. She also serves as a Title 11 court appointed investigator in guardianship cases for King County Superior Court. She cannot think of any areas in which she would rather practice. She invests in learning about her client's whole story which creates a friendly environment in which she can provide more effective assistance. Her goal is for her estate planning clients to walk away with a customized, detailed, realistic, and clear estate plan which will accomplish their wishes. Estate planning can be uncomfortable and confusing and her goal is to explain complicated legal options in a way that is easy to understand and clear. Her desire is to provide peace of mind and clarity for her clients while also giving them the information necessary to make well informed decision. Judy has been a member of the Elder Law and Real Property and Trust sections of the Washington State Bar Association and King County Bar Association. She has been a volunteer attorney with the King County Bar Association Neighborhood Clinic and Pro Bono Services for the past 14 years where she was recognized as volunteer of the month in October 2014. Judy is married with three children. Outside of work she enjoys traveling to sunny locations, exercising (HIIT and barbell classes keep her grounded) and spending time with the people (and animals) she loves.

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