Remarriage after the end of a previous marriage due to divorce or the death of a spouse is common. Unlike first marriages that typically occur in the middle to late 20s, people getting married a second or subsequent time may be well into middle age. Whether they have children from previous relationships or not, older spouses bring special financial considerations into the new marriage.
Making an Estate Plan Now Can Save Legal Hassles Later
Perhaps you or your future spouse created separate estate plans earlier in life and want to update them to reflect your new marriage. Another possibility is that neither of you have created an estate plan. Whatever your individual situation, entering a second marriage brings up several unique considerations. Examples include:
- What assets do each of you plan to continue holding individually?
- What assets do each of you plan to leave to your respective children, if any?
- Do you plan to have children together? If so, what assets would you like to make available for them?
- Are either of you bringing individual debt into the marriage?
- Do you expect to incur new joint debts after the marriage?
- Will you need to order a new title for any assets you would like to reflect joint ownership, such as checking, savings, retirement, or mortgage accounts?
- Do you plan to establish a joint will?
- Do you foresee needing any additional estate planning tools, like a power of attorney, trust, or advanced healthcare directive?
Ideally, you and your fiancée will discuss these questions long before you get married. Neither of you should assume what the other is thinking when it comes to something as important as finances. Couples with substantial individual assets before a second marriage may want to give serious thought to a pre-nuptial agreement. Although it might not sound romantic, taking this step helps to protect individual financial interests.
Special Estate Considerations When Either of You Has Children
Couples often discover how differently each one thinks about certain financial matters when it comes to leaving an inheritance for children. One common example is that one spouse wants to divide their individual assets among their own children while the other would like to divide them equally between children and stepchildren. You also need to consider who would take control of assets on behalf of either party’s minor children should one of you pass away prematurely.
If you already have a will that leaves certain provisions for your children, consider how this decision would impact your new spouse. Some couples resolve this issue by establishing a separate marital trust to make sure the surviving spouse receives assets the other spouse wanted them to have.
Don’t Forget to Update Beneficiary Designations
If you already own assets such as a 401(k) and want to replace the beneficiary with your new spouse, be sure to do this as soon after your marriage as possible. You will need a copy of your marriage license to make the changes.
Beasley & Ferber Law Firm is here to assist you with estate planning. Please request a consultation to discuss your needs.