The Pandemic, Divorce, And Estate Planning
There’s nothing like a major challenge to test a marriage. Life always dishes out an endless variety of challenges that some couples manage to negotiate while others don’t. And 2020 threw every couple a real wingding of a challenge in the form of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
It might have felt romantic at the beginning for couples to have to shelter-in-place. And, if there are children, it might have been fun for the whole family to be together as typically done on weekends or vacations. But most people expected that to last for a short time. Well, here we are a full year later with social distancing, quarantining, mask-wearing, homeschooling, working from home, still in place. And it’s all taking a toll on some marriages.
According to a National Law Review article posted on their website last October, “The evidence that the pandemic might lead to an uptick in divorce rates came early this year. By April, the interest in divorce had already increased by 34% in the US, with newer couples being the most likely to file for divorce. In fact, a full 20% of couples who had been married for five months or less sought divorce during this time period, compared with only 11% in 2019.
For those couples still in the ‘honeymoon’ phase of their marriage seeking a divorce, chances are they hadn’t had time to create an estate plan. If this is the case, you can still take estate planning actions while a divorce is pending. In some cases, this may be prudent, while in other cases it won’t be.
For instance, if you are going through a divorce you can establish a durable power of attorney. If you have an Advanced Health Care Directive, you can change that too. And, you can establish or change your will. If you do have an estate plan and are getting divorced, it’s important to review your plan with your attorney and make the necessary changes before the divorce is finalized.
The pandemic is taking its toll on everyone especially, and as we are seeing, can be especially hard on relationships whether new or long-term. Unfortunately, experts anticipate that the divorce rates will continue to increase as the pandemic lingers.