Legal separation can provide an appealing alternative to divorce for some married people who no longer want to live together as a couple. However, once you separate, it is important to consider how your legal separation affects your estate plan.
Learning about the impact of separating on inheritance in California can help you determine how to proceed with your estate plan.
Implications of legal separation
Couples choose legal separation over divorce for various reasons, including cultural and religious preferences. In California, legal separation can impact your estate in several ways. First, if you do not have an estate plan, the state distributes your property according to inheritance laws. Legal separation severs marital property rights, which means your spouse cannot inherit any assets from you if you pass away without a will. On the other hand, if you already have an estate plan and you named your separated spouse as a beneficiary, they can inherit your property unless you make changes to your plan.
Revisiting your estate plan
Once you legally separate from your spouse, you should examine your estate plan and determine if you want to alter it. For example, you might prefer to distribute your assets to your children or relatives instead of your former partner. When updating your will and trusts, you can also revise your power of attorney documents and designate someone other than your spouse to handle important healthcare, legal and financial issues if you become incapacitated.
Legal separation can impact the inheritance of your assets if you do not have an estate plan. Furthermore, if you do have a plan, it is important to update documentation like your will and power of attorney documents to reflect your current wishes.