Important Considerations During Divorce: What would happen to your kids IF…?
This past week, Mother Nature unleashed her winter wrath up here in Calgary, Alberta. We’re talking large dumps of snow and temperatures than hovered between -25 and -40 C (that’s -12 to -40 F). And though I’m accustomed to extreme weather conditions being a born and bred Canuck, something REALLY stood out for me during this cold bout: awareness of my own mortality…and the effect my death or a serious injury would have on my young children.
I don’t know if it’s because my 40th birthday lies on the horizon that I’ve become increasingly concerned (paranoid?). It also didn’t help when I heard the story of a woman in her late thirties who hit black ice, flipped her car and today is confined to a wheelchair. Regardless, I realize that there are matters I need to tie up to protect and care for my kids – just in case. Here are few points you, too, may need to tend to:
1) An up-to-date will. When I hired a lawyer two years ago at the beginning of my divorce, I created another will. I figured that since I was forking out some major cash anyway for legal services, why not pay an extra $200 to properly lay out a will, too. I must say I’ve felt a great sense of peace taking care of this – it’s one less thing to lose sleep over.
2) A life insurance policy on the former spouse that names you as either the beneficiary or trustee of the children’s money. Ideally, your ex would keep you or name as you as the beneficiary of an insurance policy. This way you’d have total control over how the money is spent on your children. That being said, it takes trust, good-will, and respect between the exes in order for that to happen – nonetheless, I’ve seen it happen. And it never hurts to ask.
If your ex doesn’t name you as the beneficiary but your children are, you should then do whatever you can to become the trustee. This gives you the ability to spend the insurance money on the children as their needs arise, ie: educational programs. If you are NOT named the trustee, you should find out who is and carefully consider whether or not problems may arise. What if your ex names his/her new wife as trustee and you two don’t get along? They can and may give you a lot of headache as you try to access the money. Do you want to be producing receipts and asking permission regarding your children’s life choices from someone who might be unreasonable and/or condescending? Please be aware that it is well within your rights to not only request but fight for the trustee position, especially if this policy was created during your marriage and one that you also contributed to.
3) A life insurance policy in your name. Again, even it’s small, at least it’s something…and it’s worth its weight in peace of mind.