While divorce is pending, spouses are limited when it comes to an Orange County estate plan modification. The following are three such restricted actions.

Beginning the process of divorcing your spouse is often painful and overwhelming. As you begin to tackle the administrative aspects of achieving a divorce, you may think that it is important to immediately modify your Orange County estate plan. Updates to estate plans, however, should be entered into cautiously while the divorce is still pending. There are certain actions that spouses are prevented from taking until after the divorce is final. The following is an overview of three such rules to be aware of:

  1. You typically cannot change the beneficiary of your life insurance policies. This law was intended to prevent a spouse or the children of the marriage from being harmed by a change to the beneficiary designations while the divorce is pending.
  2. You typically cannot change the beneficiaries or transfer title to non-probate assets. This may include retirement plans, revocable living trusts, or annuities. An exception may exist where your soon-to-be ex spouse consents in writing to the change or the transfer.
  3. You typically cannot sever any joint tenancies without first obtaining the approval of the court and providing your spouse with notice of the intent to sever the joint ownership of the asset.

Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the process of updating your Orange County estate plan alone, especially while a divorce is pending. An experienced attorney can help guide you through an estate plan modification in a manner that properly addresses your divorce proceedings.

For more information about modifying an estate plan in California, view our free guide, The Ten Things You Must Know Before Creating (or Amending) Your Will or Trust. Our office of experienced Orange County trust amendment attorneys is happy to meet with you to discuss your estate planning needs. Call our office today at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm