Summer is a popular season for weddings in Ohio. For some people, however, this is not their first walk down the aisle. In fact, a Pew Research Center reports that, in 2013, 40 percent of weddings involved one or both spouses marrying for a second time. When one is caught up in the romance of a wedding, it can be hard to stay grounded and think of the practicalities that come with remarriage. For example, if you are remarrying, it is a good time to review your estate plan.
First of all, if a person doesn’t have a will, they should draft one, especially if a person has stepchildren or children from a previous marriage. If you want some piece of property to go to a specific individual, a will is one way to ensure your wishes will be met. Moreover, without a will, one’s assets will be distributed per state intestacy laws, which may not be to one’s liking. If a person does have a will, they should make sure it is updated to reflect their new marital status.
Some assets, such as life insurance policies and some types of retirement plans, have beneficiaries. After a remarriage, review these beneficiaries, and update them if necessary. Most people probably do not want their ex-spouse to be the beneficiary of these valuable assets.
In addition, if a person has a health care directive and power of attorney, these may need to be reviewed and changed if necessary after a remarriage to remove an ex-spouse from these roles. In addition, you may need to update who is named as a guardian in your power of attorney.
Finally, consider drafting a bypass trust. This trust can make it so that your surviving spouse benefits from the trust, but the assets placed in the trust will, in the end, go to your children. This could be important if a person worries that if they die before their spouse, their spouse inherits their assets but then goes on to marry someone else, taking those assets with them.
As this shows, one should not put off estate planning if they remarry. The failure to do so could result in unwanted consequences. An attorney can help couples marrying for a second time review their estate plans, and make the appropriate changes.
Source: CNBC, “Remarrying? Update your estate plan,” Kelli B. Grant, Oct. 14, 2016