Did you know that your estate plan should be updated on a fairly regular basis? Changes in the law and in life often merit updating an estate plan to help ensure that it best reflects a person’s intentions and goals. After major life events, namely key familial changes, it may be a good idea to review your estate plan and make any appropriate changes. Let us take a look at how remarriage, divorce, and other familial changes can impact your estate plan.
Should you remarry, by virtue of law, your spouse will become your legal next of kin. This means that if you were to die intestate, or without a will or trust, your entire estate, or at least a significant portion, would likely go to your new spouse. Given that most second marriages involve children from prior marriages, you may either need to have estate planning documents created or make sure your current ones continue to provide for your children in light of your new marriage.
There may be many estate planning options to provide for the children from your first marriage. These can include prenuptial and postnuptial agreements where you and your new spouse elect to keep your finances separate and allow your children from your first marriages to inherit your estates. There may also be various trust options, which in the event you pass away before your spouse, can allow you to provide for your spouse during his or her lifetime with your children inheriting the remainder of your estate. There are many other considerations, including long-term care planning for your spouse so your estate may avoid being eaten up by long-term care costs should your spouse become ill. Furthermore, an estate plan can also address the disposition of any joint properties or assets held between you and your new spouse.
When going through a divorce, a thorough review of all of your estate planning documents may also be important. For example, if you have a will where your spouse is designated as the personal representative, a designation of a new personal representative may be necessary. Further, it may be necessary to review any retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and joint accounts with payable on death designations to ensure they no longer reflect your ex-spouse as beneficiary.
Any number of other familial changes may also merit modifications to your estate plan. These may include the adoption or birth of a child or the death of a child or other family member. For example, when a trust specifically names children or grandchildren as named beneficiaries, the trusts should be updated to include any additional children or grandchildren.
We can assist you in updating your estate planning documents, assuring all of your loved ones are provided for, according to your wishes. Please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.