No one wants to think about death, it’s scary and unpleasant. It’s an unfortunate reality, but one that, especially if you have kids and any sort of estate to pass on, you need to plan for. A will can make it much easier for your loved ones in the event of your passing. But what happens if you don’t have one? If you’re divorced but don’t have a will, can your ex get everything?
As with most legal matters, it’s a complicated situation. Our founding partner, Rick Jones, makes regular appearances on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show, where he answers listener’s questions. One recent caller had serious concerns about this very topic.
Listen to the call below:
Caller: “I’m a divorced father of a pre-teen paying child support. And like many people, I’ve put off writing my will. I just heard that if I die tomorrow, my ex can sue my estate for everything in the name of supporting my child. The last thing I want is for my ex to have complete control of everything that I’ve worked so hard for all of my life. Is this true?”
Danny: “Boy, I’m with you buddy. Is it true?”
Rick: “Well, there’s some specifics I don’t know in terms of how the laws of intestacy work, the key definitely is to have a will so you can be the one that’s directing as opposed to the state doing in automatically, which is what that word ‘intestacy’ is; like when you die without a will.”
Background Voice: “That’s the thing you do know that we didn’t know, was that word and it’s meaning.”
Rick: “Well it’s a dangerous word sometimes, too, right?”
Danny: “I thought you were saying intestines and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.”
Rick: “Like I said, the key is to make sure that you have a will so you are directing. And you do currently have a child support obligation but at the same time, if you die without a will, there’s very specific ways in terms of how it operates. Your ex doesn’t have any rights in of herself, HOWEVER, your child certainly is the beneficiary in the absence of that if you don’t have any other children, etc. So, the real key is you don’t wanna end up with her being the trustee if you will.”
Danny: “Right, and that’s what will happen, cuz [sic] legally all the stuff’s going to go to the kids, but she’s under 18, she won’t get that money, it’ll go to mom, and mom can dish it out. I’m down with [the caller], the last thing he wants, he’s worked his whole life, and she’s got it again? So make a will. How hard is that to make a will?”
Rick: “Again, I’m stepping outside of my expertise, but at the same time it seems this is something that’s really ripe for setting up a ‘trust.’ So in other words, you devise, if, in fact, you perish, you devise your wealth to a trust for the benefit of, you can name a trustee as well.”
If you have questions about your divorce, contact Goldberg Jones at our San Diego office.
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