This February, as love is in the air and we celebrate Valentine’s day, we reflect on the ways love can change our lives. Have you been widowed or divorced and found love again? If so, your remarriage may feel like a new beginning to life. In the midst of celebration, it can be easy to forget about other changes you may need to make do to this major life change. It can be important, however, to think about your estate plan and figure out what updates you need to make in this new stage of life. Let us review seven questions to ask your attorney before updating your estate plan after remarriage.
1. Do I Need to Make Any Changes? For most people, the answer may be yes. A marriage can be a significant event for many reasons and will likely have a notable impact on your estate plan.
2. Should We Combine Our Assets? If you are newly married to someone but you are both older and have had separate finances for a long time, you may want to keep it that way and split your combined expenses. You might also decide to leave the bulk of your individual estates to your respective children and grandchildren, rather than to each other.
3. Will You Buy a Home Together? If so, even if you are in the above situation, you may want to stipulate in your respective estate plans that, while the rest of your assets go to your individual heirs, the surviving spouse will stay in the home after the first spouse passes away, and after both of you have passed on, the house will be sold and the proceeds divided.
4. What if We Have Children Separately and Together? If your remarriage is earlier in life and either you or your partner has children from a prior marriage, and you plan to have one or more children together, you may want to write your estate plans in a certain way that would leave your assets equitably to all of your children, instead of leaving them to your spouse and expecting he or she to leave everything to all of your children. If no one writes down what they want specifically, things can get messy.
5. What If Only One Person Has Children? If only one spouse has children, the other spouse may want to consider in his or her estate planning if he or she would like to leave something to stepchildren as well as nieces, nephews, or other relatives with whom they may have a parent-like relationship.
6. Is There a Prenuptial Agreement? If so, make sure your estate plan is in accordance with its terms.
7. Do We Need a Postnuptial Agreement? Even if you did not create a prenup, you may decide you want something similar and enter into a postnuptial agreement. Your estate plan should reflect whatever you put into that agreement.
If you have remarried or are planning to remarry, making updates to your estate plan can be critical for many reasons. Our office can guide you through your estate planning options. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.