On Wall Street published an article on the impact of remarriage on estate plans in “Estate planning mishaps: How even the family bible is at stake.” There are some often unforeseen ramifications of remarriage. Questions come up like, “Who gets the personal belongings of a deceased parent?” or “How do you prove title to personal property?“
There’s no title to a family heirloom such as grandpa's pipe collection. A parent can say that specific items should go to a particular child, but it’s proving that they actually belonged to the parent (rather than a new spouse) that’s difficult. Situations like that prompt this rule of thumb: When a parent dies, first change the locks.
The death of a parent and the new spouse may not clear up issues for potential heirs. For example, if a husband's death is followed three days later by the death of his new wife, her children by a previous marriage may say all the property is theirs because the “surviving” wife inherited the property.
Something to consider: prenuptial agreements, which can be particularly useful for those who already have children and are remarrying later in life. And if you are divorced and get remarried, verify the beneficiary listed on your accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s and insurance policies. Otherwise, your former spouse could end up inheriting the assets!
Be aware of how state laws can impact inheritances. For some, when moving from one state to another (especially in the case of a second or third marriage) they should talk with a qualified estate planning attorney to understand what rights that spouse has attained because of the move. There could be surprises; in Oklahoma the surviving spouse has a right to the family bible!
And you won’t only want to review retirement assets. You’ll need to ensure your bank accounts, home and other assets are all aligned with your estate plan—and that your estate plan reflects your current family situation! If you haven’t spoken with your estate planning attorney since your divorce, there are likely changes in your assets (as well as possible changes in the law) that could impact your estate plan.
It’s crucial to keep your estate planning attorney apprised of the changes in your life. Whether it’s a marriage, divorce or re-marriage, a move, the birth of a child or grandchild, all these things and more can impact your estate plan and your planning opportunities. By working with an estate planning attorney who develops ongoing relationships with clients through a client care program, you and your attorney can work together to ensure your estate plan will take care of your family by updating your plan as life changes.
For more information, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: On Wall Street (Sept. 14, 2016) “Estate planning mishaps: How even the family bible is at stake”