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Part 1 - So you’re divorced - what to do next?

Date:3 JAN 2019

Going through a divorce can be a gruelling and stressful time, and it can be very daunting to rebuild your life when you come out the other side. Aside from moving on with life personally, it is important to consider how your life will change. Shanade Smith, of BPE Solicitors, outlines some practical steps to consider.

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Revisit your Will

It is common for Wills to be drafted in favour of one’s spouse and also for that spouse to be named as an executor (the person in charge of dealing with the estate). It is therefore very important to reconsider your Will in light of your new circumstances.

If you have any concerns that something may happen to you during the divorce process, then you can put in place a holding Will to reflect your wishes until your divorce is finalised. If you do not currently have a Will, now would also be a good time to put one in place as otherwise the majority of your estate will pass to your spouse whilst you remain married.

On divorce, any gifts in your Will to your spouse will automatically fail and their appointment as your executor will also fail. You may be happy with this but it is unlikely that the rest of your Will will be adequate, for example, your Will may now leave everything to your children who are minors and are unable to deal with the assets. If you have named your spouse as your only executor, this would also now leave you with no-one to deal with your estate, which is problematic.

We have a specialist Private Client team who can assist with your Will and other estate planning queries. Please email PrivateClient@bpe.co.uk for further information.

Consider Property Ownership

If you still own property jointly with your spouse, it is very important that you consider how that property is owned. There are two types of ownership, ‘Tenants in Common’ and ‘Joint Tenants’. If you own property as Joint Tenants, then that property will automatically pass to the survivor on death. If you own property as Tenants in Common, then you each own a distinct share (commonly 50%) of the property which will pass in accordance with your respective Wills. Owning property as Joint Tenants during a divorce may be undesirable for many reasons, however it is simple to change your ownership to Tenants in Common. This process is known as ‘severing’ the Joint Tenancy and doesn’t require your spouse’s consent, just that they be notified of the change. We can assist with this process so just get in touch with the Family team for more information.

Get a Financial Adviser

Your divorce settlement may leave you with assets which you’re not used to dealing with. It is important that you get the right advice to enhance your financial stability for the future. We are closely affiliated with many financial advisers and can put you in touch with someone who can help.

Joint Bank Accounts

Keep an eye on your joint accounts, if you have any concerns regarding your spouse’s account activity then there are mechanisms that the bank or the court can put in place to safeguard the account.

Tomorrow: part 2

Shanade Smith, BPE Solicitors 
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