With a growing number of “gray divorces” occurring in California and other U.S. states, remarriage has become more common among seniors. With wedding plans underway, it can be easy for couples who are remarrying to neglect thinking about updating their estate plans.
Unfortunately, becoming lax with an estate plan can have devastating, long-term consequences, particularly where children and grandchildren are concerned. If you’re getting remarried, here are a few estate-planning pitfalls to avoid.
First, consider how you would like to protect your new spouse should the unexpected happen. If you fail to update your will and you pass away, laws in certain states may determine that your assets should be distributed among your heirs. This could disinherit your new spouse and cause him or her to have to move out of your marital home. Your estate-planning lawyer can work with you to ensure that your assets are distributed among your family and your spouse to prevent this outcome.
Second, consider how you can protect your children from a previous marriage. While you may intend to leave your assets to your new spouse under the impression that your children will be taken care of financially, this could leave your children at significant financial risk. Instead of leaving a common pool for your spouse and children to share, consider creating a separate marital fund that makes it easier for you to allocate funds directly to your spouse. If you establish a trust for your spouse, you can also specify that any remaining assets will be passed on to your family if your spouse dies.
Finally, to keep your assets protected, consider consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. When your family status changes, an attorney may be able to help you navigate the process of updating your will, revocable trusts, power of attorney and more.