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Marital longevity can make divorce complex

Long ago, if an Arizona couple got married, they would expect to stay together for a lifetime. In fact, married couples in most states greatly frowned upon divorce in those days. Times have changed, however, and not only does there seem to be a collective empathy throughout society for those whose marriages do not last, there are also more people now than ever before filing for divorce at age 50 and beyond. 

The divorce rate has skyrocketed among the 50-and-over crowd. It has come to be known as "gray divorce" because it is becoming so common. After being with a spouse for 25, 30 or more years, going separate ways can be legally complex. It can also create stress within a family, especially for adult children who may be shocked to learn that their parents no longer wish to stay married to each other.

Common misconceptions concerning estate planning

No one enjoys contemplating the end of life. Unfortunately, life does come to an end and there will be loved ones who need a plan on how to move forward. Arizona residents who wish to ensure that their loved ones will be provided for may do so through estate planning. 

There are some misconceptions that tend to prevent many people from engaging in this important task. One of the most common is that preparing estate plans will result in an early death. While it is not unusual to be apprehensive about planning, there is no correlation between preparing these documents and an early demise; instead, the knowledge that heirs will be taken care of may relieve unhealthy stress. Another frequent misconception is that plans cannot be altered once they are completed. This is not true as the majority of planning tools can be easily updated or changed when needed. 

Don't wait if you want to use a prenuptial agreement

You know that you want to use a prenuptial agreement, but you feel nervous to tell your significant other about your decision. After all, while you think of it as merely a wise legal step to take when entering into a new relationship, you think your new spouse may think it means you already know you'll get divorced. For some people, that's just not the way they want to start a marriage.

As such, you put off the conversation for months. You focus on planning the wedding. You try to think about what to say. Then, three days before the ceremony, you finally get the nerve to have that conversation. You present your significant other with a draft of the prenup and ask them to sign it.

Social media can be a legal minefield during divorce

It may seem that social media is a normal part of many lives. Many in Arizona check their Facebook and other accounts and post their daily events first thing in the morning, throughout the day and at the last moment before going to bed. However, those going through a divorce may want to exercise more caution about their social media posts if they want to avoid complicating their legal issues.

The list of contacts may be called friends, but someone going through a divorce may find that those monitoring their social media accounts are anything but friends. More often lawyers use social media posts and pictures as evidence in divorce trials. For example, a night out with friends during this stressful time may seem like a relaxing idea until pictures of a parent drinking or impaired appear on social media. Any posts that suggest a parent is unfit may severely damage a bid for custody.

Estate planning documents should be regularly revisited

The task of settling one's affairs is not one that most people relish. In many cases, Arizona residents may feel that, once estate planning is done, it only needs revised if there is a major change in circumstances. However, it is recommended that these plans are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they are current with changes in tax laws and that they confirm with one's current needs and wishes.

The process of setting up detailed estate documents may feel like a chore that only needs to be addressed once. In light of the recent tax code changes, people may find that old plans will not provide the tax savings and protections that were intended. Furthermore, even seemingly small changes in relationships or life circumstances may necessitate updates to these vital documents. Financial professionals suggest that clients regularly review their personal situations and financial well-being in order to update estate plans as needed.

Delays in estate planning based on elections not recommended

It is often human nature to delay tasks that are viewed as unpleasant or complex. However, with the upcoming elections on the horizon, now may be the ideal time for estate planning. Arizona residents who wait may find that their desired plans will not be valid in the future.

Since election outcomes are impossible to predict, financial professionals advise clients to begin drafting their plans. If there is a change in the controlling party after the 2020 election, then existing tax and estate planning laws may face drastic overhauls. There are indications that future legislators may pass widespread reforms in the existing tax-exempt gift and inheritance amounts. While there are often grandfather clauses in these types of legislation, there is no guarantees that one's plans will be valid in the future.

Estate planning can be undone by beneficiary mistakes

One of the least enjoyable chores for many Arizona residents is contemplating how their affairs and property should be disbursed after their demise. However, once one has settled down to the task of estate planning, it is important that errors do not undo all of the hard work. Those who are unsure about certain details relating to trusts may benefit from learning more about selecting beneficiaries.

One of the most important points is whether cash assets would be a desired form for inheritance. If so, then provisions must be made for ensuring that these types of assets are available for executors to disperse. A trust is often set up to minimize taxes to both the estate and to future heirs. If these trusts are not fully utilized due to individuals chosen as beneficiaries over the trust, it may create an unintended estate tax burden.

A spendthrift trust could resolve estate planning dilemmas

Spendthrift trusts have gotten a bit of a bad rap due to their name, which implies that heirs are profligate spenders unable to keep two dimes to rub against one another.

While it is certainly true that a spendthrift trust can be used to put the brakes on heirs' reckless financial habits, that is certainly not the only use for these types of trusts.

Planning and professional advice can ease divorce costs, process

When a couple chooses to marry, they are not usually focused on the what-ifs. Unfortunately, many marriages do not stand the test of time and a couple finds themselves facing the prospect of a divorce. In order to avoid some of the harsh financial ramifications of divorce, there are measures Arizona residents can take into consideration.

In spite of any verbal agreements that a couple may arrive at, not having written documentation to support these agreements may come with a significant cost. If one spouse has purchased a home before a marriage, marital contracts can ensure that one's investments is protected in a divorce. Likewise, retirement savings can be subjected to court-ordered division in the absence of a prior written agreement. 

Retirement and estate planning often go hand in hand

According to an American Association of Retired Persons report, an estimated 60% of adults do not have any formal documents in place regarding their final wishes. While the numbers are improved for those nearing retirement, there are still many people who have not engaged in any formal estate planning. Arizona residents who are approaching retirement may find this is a good time to review their estate plans

Many working adults dream of retiring, but this change can also provoke feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. For many, this is an ideal time to make sure they have plans in place in the event an incapacitating illness or injury leaves them incapable of making sound decisions or an accident results in their untimely death. There are several documents that can provide instructions for loved ones to follow to fulfill one's final wishes, beginning with a will. This tool dictates how an estate should be handled including the provision for heirs, especially minor children.

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