Older adults are remarrying more and more often. In 1960, only 42% of previously married individuals 55 years and older ever remarried. In 2013 this number had grown to 57%, and by 2017 it had leaped an additional 10% to 67%. Second marriages are becoming progressively more common, which means that it is increasingly important that people know about the many estate planning pitfalls associated with tying the knot anew.
4 Frequent Second Marriage Estate Planning Mistakes
1. Failing to Acknowledge that Fair Isn’t Always Equal
Generally in estate planning, fair does not always mean equal, which is especially true for blended families.
It is rarely the case that two adults bring the same amount of assets to a marriage, and even less so where second marriages are concerned. This disparity becomes more complicated when children from previous partnerships are present, which is why it is important to speak early and openly about how things will be divided when you pass. An experienced estate planning attorney is your best resource for determining how best to have this conversation.
2. Forgetting to Update Beneficiaries
While it is important to remember that your assets need not be divided equally between yours and your new spouse’s children or heirs, it is infinitely more crucial to remember to update your beneficiaries so property doesn’t go to anyone associated with your ex-spouse.
Divorce automatically severs most claims your former partner may make on your estate, but this is not true of former in-laws who may be named as beneficiaries. Furthermore, while your ex may not retain a right to your assets, if they remain named as your financial or medical power of attorney, they may continue to intervene in these capacities.
When you remarry, it is paramount that you work with an estate planning attorney to review all estate planning documents, financial accounts, and insurance policies to ensure they align with your new priorities.
3. Overlooking the Need to Rewrite Your Will
This point is implied by the above and yet cannot be overemphasized. Changing beneficiary designations and updating advance directives is critical, but it is your will that determines where most of your assets end up. Additionally, your will is a place where you articulate final wishes and name guardians to minor children or dependents. If in remarrying, you have become a step parent, this may be especially important.
4. Thinking You Can Do It on Your Own
A DIY approach is never a good way to organize your estate. No matter how few your assets or simple your circumstances, trying to execute an estate plan on your own (or using a free online service) rarely does more than leave your loved one’s a world of stress to navigate when you’re gone. This is doubly true for older adults and blended families whose situations are generally more complex.
An experienced estate planning attorney is always an essential resource for ordering your affairs, which is even more the case where second marriages are concerned.
To learn more about avoiding estate planning mistakes when you remarry, or anything else related to the matter, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated team at Caress Law either by calling (503) 292-8990 or using the contact form on our website.