Are you planning to remarry soon, or have you already remarried? If your answer is yes, have you thought about reviewing and updating your estate plan? In order to make sure you are protecting yourself, your family, and your assets as you enter this new phase of your life, take time to review these three important estate planning considerations.
1. If there are children from prior marriages, they may require specific protections. A typical estate plan in a first marriage provides that all of your assets pass to your surviving spouse and then to your children. However, if you have children from your prior marriage and you remarry, that same plan could leave those children without any inheritance. That is 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. In order to avoid the possibility of this scenario, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to be sure that you protect the inheritance of your children.
2. If you are planning to write your spouse out of your will, be aware that most states do not allow this to happen. 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. Again, your estate planning attorney can work 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 an excellent estate planning tool which can even allow you to bypass some of the restrictions outlined above in #2. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements do not necessarily have the reputation of being estate planning tools because many people think of these legal agreements as plans for divorce. However, 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. Remember, when you hire your estate planning attorney, make sure your attorney has experience with these types of marital agreements so that you can take advantage of them when devising your estate plan.
Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.