If you have tied the knot again and expect to pass on assets to your children from a previous marriage, don’t overlook the importance of preparation for when you pass away.
For many men and women who lack even a simple will, the stakes can be greater if you do no estate planning when you remarry.
Ultimately, your kids could unintentionally be disinherited.
Did you know that roughly 17% of individuals remarry after a divorce or death of a spouse? Even with a decrease in the rate of remarriage for most age groups, it’s elevated with in 55-and-older crowd: 57% remarried in 2013 versus 42% in 1960.
The older you are when you remarry, the more likely it is that you bring assets into the union.
This may be in the form of retirement savings, life insurance policies, brokerage accounts, or property and the like. Furthermore, there may be family heirlooms or other possessions that you want to ensure wind up with your own children.
This is when estate planning helps avoid family conflict.
If you die without a Will, it is called dying intestate. The courts in your state will determine who gets what.
The entire process is public and often messy. Especially when “would-be” heirs have different priorities or contradictory ideas of what is rightfully theirs.
You don’t want to leave it up to the state. Trust me.
Every situation is unique, and some can be more complicated than others. Here are a few critical points to consider when deciding how to ensure your heirs end up with the assets you want them to have:
Your Account Beneficiaries:
One easily overlooked item after people remarry is updating beneficiaries on their retirement accounts, life insurance policies, etc. Whomever is listed as a beneficiary when you die, WILL get that money.
No amount of Estate Planning can fix having the wrong beneficiary recorded.
In other words, if you named your ex-spouse as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, guess who gets the cash?
Often, remarriage includes a jointly owned home. Based upon the laws of your state and how the property is titled, your desire for your children to inherit the share of it could be overturned.
States have different rules. There can also be other factors when it comes to the way the home is titled, including protection from potential creditors, or for tax reasons when the home is sold.
This makes it important to consult with an estate planning attorney prior to making any decisions.
If you’d like your children to get special items when you pass away, it’s important to be as detailed as you possibly can in your will. Leave no space for interpretation.
The more explicit you are, the better.
Consider a Trust:
Do you want your children to receive a lump sum of cash? Are you leery about giving a young adult unrestricted access of a sudden windfall of money? Then, consider developing a trust to be the beneficiary of a specific asset.
A trust holds assets on behalf of your beneficiary. The resources go into the trust instead of straight to your heirs. They can only receive money according to you’re specifications in the trust documents.
A trust distributes money based on any criteria you decide.
Discuss your goals with not just your spouse, but your kids as well. You don’t necessarily need to go into dollar amounts, but setting expectations might help prevent feuds between your new spouse and your children.
If your kids or spouse don’t know what to expect when you die, there can be a good deal of conflict.
- Choose someone to handle your finances, if you reach a point at which you can’t.
- A Financial Power of Attorney will allow an individual to oversee paying bills and submitting tax returns, for example.
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney designates an individual to make significant health-care decisions, if you can’t.
- A Living Will states your wishes, if you are on life support or suffer from a terminal illness. This document can help guide your proxy’s decision-making. In case you’ve got no one named, medical personnel must follow your wishes in that document.
While creating an Estate Plan might not seem appealing or fun, the planning can help make sure your assets end up where you want and that your wishes are carried out.