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Estate planning tips for individuals who remarry

by | Nov 3, 2020 | Probate & Estate Planning |

With a recent increase in the number of divorces among elderly couples, which is referred to as “gray divorce,” the need for estate planning modifications after a remarriage late in life has also grown. However, it’s sad to say that many people fail to take the necessary steps to update their estate plans after they get remarried. Prenuptial agreements might help, but Pennsylvania residents should avoid some of the following common mistakes regarding their estate plans after they get remarried.

Lack of protection for the current spouse

It is largely assumed that anyone who gets remarried wants to take care of his or her current spouse after passing away. However, in many states, all of a person’s assets may pass to his or her children if he or she hasn’t updated his or her estate plan. Depending on the children’s relationship with the current spouse, they may choose to leave their stepparent with nothing after the death of their biological parent. The children should not be making the choice – the parent who is creating the fund to pass to his or her beneficiaries should make the choice about where the assets should go.

Failure to protect children

It is also possible to go too far in protecting one’s current spouse by leaving children from the first marriage out in the cold. Again, stepparent/stepchildren relationships can be difficult, especially later in life. It is important for anyone writing an estate plan to not assume that his or her new spouse will treat his or her adult children from a previous marriage fairly.

Failure to protect the estate

A former spouse can be automatically barred from receiving any liquid assets, but other parts of an estate plan still need to be considered. Retirement accounts, life insurance benefits and other assets come with their own beneficiary forms, which all need to be updated. The failure to do so could cause a person to leave a large sum of money to an ex-spouse no matter how the marriage ended or whether the will was updated.

When it comes to estate planning, it is highly advisable to work with an attorney. A lawyer can review his or her client’s assets and help compile an up-to-date estate plan that best cares for his or her client’s family.