Estate planning challenges following a remarriage
August 1, 2021
Whether through death or divorce, second marriages can bring happiness to a couple dealing with the aftermath of loss that takes many forms. However, starting the next chapter of a new life may require additional changes that include estate planning, mainly when children and other heirs are part of the family picture.
Loved ones will likely have their own unique reactions to the new family dynamic. Taking proactive steps in revising wills and trust is essential to maintain a sense of unity and avoid serious disputes that can create rifts in a family.
Taking immediate action
Couples on their second marriages should know first hand that life is not all that predictable. Taking immediate action on estate planning modifications is paramount, specifically when the new spouse becomes the new beneficiary. Checking financial accounts and life insurance policies can prevent contested cases in probate court.
In addition, legal directives require changes as well, specifically with the medical power of attorney, ensuring that the current spouse, not the ex-spouse makes medical decisions should incapacitation becomes an issue.
To ensure that both new and existing family members are also cared for in the future, updating a will is essential in deciding the assets accumulated over a lifetime. That includes family items that have tangible and sentimental value.
Blended families composed of biological and step-children create complexities in distributing assets, specifically regarding the equal division of property. Not all offspring may be entitled to the same financial amount. For example, the original family home where a new spouse moves in may go to the children from the first marriage since they lived in the house longer.
Avoiding estate-related conflicts after you are gone is not something you will be able to control. Being fair is not the point. Being clear about your intentions when it comes to distributing your assets at least creates awareness, if not financial stability, for grieving loved ones.