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Divorce and estate plans can clash without due diligence

Life can be complicated. It's common for people in Houston and the rest of Texas to do all they can to avoid problems. For many, this means denial and not undertaking the process of estate planning. For others, it means taking the step to draft a will but not going whole hog on a comprehensive plan.

Depending on your particular circumstances, doing the minimum might be all that is required. It can be easy to act and then put it out of your mind. However, to paraphrase a common idiom, life happens. When it does, perhaps you make some adjustments in your plan. If you don't cover all your bases, however, life can hit the fan.

For example, consider this scenario. You marry and each spouse takes out life insurance policies on the other. You each name the other as beneficiary. Years go by and you divorce. Each case is different, but it's likely that with divorce neither spouse wants the other to be the life insurance beneficiary anymore.

Your first thought might be that a simple change in your will detailing the change covers the base. But those with experience in this area of the law know that's not how things work. The insurance policy is a separate contract. As such, it stands alone and its provisions trump whatever is in the will.

The potential pitfalls of life can be many and hard to avoid without the help of skilled legal counsel. Setting up an initial consultation certainly is advised, but then so is making a commitment to revisit accounts and beneficiary designations once every year so that changes can occur as they're needed.

Source: thebalance.com, "Why Beneficiary Designations Override Your Will," Dana Anspach, Aug. 8, 2016

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