According to the latest data from the Census Bureau, over 17% of people remarry after their first marriage ends in divorce or death of a spouse. Often when people remarry they fail to take certain steps to prevent disinheriting their kids from the previous marriage. The solution is proper estate planning.
Update Your Will or Trust
The first step is to take a look at your last will and testament and/or any trust documents where you may have included a former spouse as a beneficiary. If you do not have a will or trust, now is the time to draft and execute one or both depending on your situation. Otherwise, you could have some significant unintended consequences upon your passing. Intestate succession laws will dictate how your assets will flow to beneficiaries unless you execute a valid will and/or put in place a proper trust.
Update Your Account Beneficiaries
You likely have many accounts such as retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies that need to have beneficiary designations updated. These designations supersede any intention stated in your will and whoever is listed as the beneficiary will get that allocated money when you die. This is often an overlooked item when people remarry and it can have devastating consequences. There have been many situations where an ex-spouse is awarded life insurance money rather than the intended kids or current spouse because the beneficiary designation was not properly updated upon remarriage.
Update Real Estate
If your home is deeded as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety you may need to evaluate how the property is titled if your intention is for your children to inherit that property rather than the spouse list jointly. You will need to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine the best course of action in this situation because there are laws that protect spouses, especially in regards to the primary residence.
For more information on protecting your kids’ inheritance after remarriage, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. We will provide you with a Remarriage Checklist so that nothing slips through the cracks.