California Divorce and Powers of Attorney

California Divorce and Powers of Attorney

I had a post before about what happens in California to your will after you get divorced. Many people have their spouses named in their will in some way (e.g. to be executor). In nearly all cases, I would imagine you don’t want your ex-spouse to have control over your estate when you’ve died. Today, though, I’m going to go over a similar question: what happens in California to your Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney document after you’ve gotten divorced? As with wills, many people name their spouses as their power of attorney agent or durable power of attorney agent and, as with divorces, most people likely don’t want their ex-spouses having control over them once the divorce is finally over. The relevant law here is going to be Section 4154 of the California Probate Code, section (a) of which states: “If after executing a power of attorney the principal’s marriage to the attorney-in-fact is dissolved or annulled, the principal’s designation of the former spouse as attorney-in-fact is revoked.” Section 4154(b) then goes on to say that if divorce or annulment of the marriage was the only reason why the power of attorney was revoked, then remarriage of the principal and attorney-in-fact will reinstate the power of attorney and the attorney-in-fact’s authority under it. If, however, the power of attorney was revoked for other reasons too and the principal and attorney-in-fact just happened to get divorced at the same time, then them remarrying does not reinstate the power of attorney and the attorney-in-fact’s authority. If you compare what happens to a will under section 6122 of...
California Divorce: Undisclosed Assets

California Divorce: Undisclosed Assets

This post is going to be about what happens to assets that were not previously disclosed during a California divorce case. This failure to disclose could be intentional, such as your soon-to-be ex-spouse purposely trying to hide bank accounts and other property from you. For instance, suppose you were a stay-at-home mom and your husband was the one who worked outside the home. Even though all the property the two of you acquired during the marriage is likely going to be community property to which you would be entitled to half, he might view it as all rightfully belonging to him because he was the one who went out to work for it. He might, for example, try to hide it by putting it all under his brother’s name, his elderly mother’s name, etc. The failure to disclose could also be accidental. People can be forgetful, even when they intend to be honest. Depending on your level of wealth, the length of the marriage, etc, it is possible that your soon-to-be ex-husband, for example, might forget that he had a 401K from a job he worked 20 years ago that he has never touched. Theoretically, all assets and debts should be disclosed during a divorce and each party should — in theory — have total access to all information regarding the couple’s finances. The reality, of course, is never that perfect. The fact that financial disclosure during a California divorce is voluntary and on the honor system doesn’t help either. Bottom line: if you’re involved in a California divorce and you believe your soon-to-be ex-spouse is trying to hide...