Are you and your future spouse considering remarrying? Are you immersed in wedding preparations, invitations and family? Congratulations!! We know you are busy with wedding plans but have you given any thoughts on how this could impact your Wisconsin estate plan? You and your future spouse should know that remarriage and estate planning often work hand in hand. 

Now typically when couples in their first marriage create their Wisconsin estate plans their goals match. Each spouse wants to take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, and then divide what is left equally among their children. Or, if your children are still minors, you set up a trust for the children until they are adults. Also, most couples jointly own their assets. Be aware, though, this is usually not the case when dealing with remarriage and estate planning.

For your information, when you remarry or marry later in life or marry after amassing significant wealth, your goals and the goals of your future spouse may not be so perfectly aligned, so the traditional methods for Wisconsin estate planning may not work as well. For instance, consider the following scenario: if you decide to put your new spouse on the title of the home you own, it is now considered jointly owned with the right of survivorship. In other words, when you pass away, the home becomes the property of your spouse, without restriction. In addition, there may be no guarantee that he or she will pass it along to your children from your prior marriage. 

Here are a few estate planning tips as you plan to remarry.

  1. Your first consideration for remarriage and estate planning may be to consider planning separately, especially if you or your future spouse have significant assets. Have an honest conversation about your individual estate planning goals and make the decision together. If your goals are sufficiently similar, then you may be able to plan jointly. If they are significantly different, consider having separate attorneys.
  2. Your second consideration could be to use a QTIP trust in remarriage and estate planning if you have significantly more assets than your future spouse. For example, by using a QTIP Trust your spouse could continue to live in your home, but upon his or her death, your children, not the children of your spouse, would inherit the property.
  3. Finally, the third consideration should be to consider naming a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance. The trust can allow you to control when and to whom monies are distributed, so that you can provide for your spouse during his or her lifetime, and yet keep control over the proceeds. The trust can also protect your spouse from irresponsible spending, creditors, predators, and even estate taxes.

 Contact our office to discuss your options if you will be giving or receiving money or other assets this holiday season and anticipate this may impact your Medicaid eligibility. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.