Have you remarried or are you considering remarriage? If so, it may be time to rethink and review your estate plan. Let us review three important estate planning considerations to keep in mind so that you can make sure you are protecting yourself, your family, and your assets as you enter this new phase of your life.
1. Children from prior marriages may require specific protections. In a first marriage, a typical estate plan provides that all of your assets would pass to your surviving spouse and then to your children. If you have children from your prior marriage and you remarry, however, that same plan could leave those children without any inheritance because your new spouse could survive you, inherit your estate, and then write your children from your prior marriage out of his or her will. To avoid the possibility of this scenario, you may want to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to be sure that you protect your children’s inheritance.
2. Most states do not allow you to write your spouse out of your will. Most states give a surviving spouse the right to disregard the distribution of assets outlined in the will and inherit a significant portion of the estate as determined under that state’s laws. This can present a problem if, for example, you would like to leave your assets directly to your children instead of your spouse. Even if your spouse agrees with the estate planning decisions you set forth in your will, there may be nothing stopping a change of heart when the time comes. Your estate planning attorney can talk through these issues with you and your spouse and help you use a variety of estate planning vehicles to ensure your assets will be distributed as you wish.
3. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be a valuable estate planning tool that you may want to take advantage of. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may not have the reputation of being estate planning tools, most people think of these legal agreements as plans for divorce, but for couples who are on their second marriage, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be coupled with traditional estate planning documents to ensure that your assets are distributed in the way that you and your spouse agree may be best. When hiring an estate planning attorney, make sure the attorney has experience with these types of marital agreements so that you can take advantage of them when devising your estate plan.
For assistance updating your estate plan or establishing an estate plan that best meets your goals, please reach out to our office to schedule a time to meet.