Engaged couples often find themselves too busy planning the wedding that they sometimes forget to straighten out some legal documents first. One of the most important things to update is your estate plan – especially if your upcoming marriage isn’t your first, or you have children from a previous marriage.
- If you are planning to remarry, you must update your estate plan to ensure your interests are protected
- Be sure to update your will, titles and beneficiaries so that your assets go to the right people
- You must also revise your power of attorney so that your ex-spouse will not be able to petition a court for guardianship
Walking Down the Aisle… Again
Statistical data shows that many Americans have made a second or third trip down the aisle. According to a 2013 report by the Pew Research, around 40% of marriages are a remarriage after divorce for one or both partners.
While it’s common nowadays to be married to someone who has been married once or twice before, it’s even more common to have lackluster estate planning. According to a recent survey by USLegalWills.com, an estimated 63% of Americans don’t have a will, and around 9% have wills that are outdated.
The combination of remarriage and out-of-date estate planning can be very problematic for your kids and new spouse, so here are a couple of things to do to ensure your interests are protected.
1. Create/Update Your Will
First, you have to maintain your will. If you don’t have one, now is the time to get one. Without a will, your assets will be passed in accordance with state intestacy laws, which might not be how you want to distribute them. Your stepchildren could be cut out entirely, for example, and this might not be what you want to happen.
2. Revise Your Power of Attorney
Second, revise your power of attorney and your healthcare directives. It’s important to do this; otherwise you could end up having your ex-spouse as your agent. In addition, make sure the power of attorney lists exactly who you want as guardian. If you don’t, your ex-spouse may be able to successfully petition a court for guardianship, even if she or he is not the listed agent on the power of attorney.
3. Make Sure Your Beneficiaries are Up-to-date
Third, update your beneficiaries. Qualified retirement plans and life insurance plans are often passed to the beneficiary listed on your accounts, regardless of what is written in your will. If you don’t update your accounts, your ex-spouse might get the proceeds from your life insurance plan, instead of your new spouse or kids.
4. Update Your Titles
Lastly, you have to watch your titles. When it comes to titling in property division, the will doesn’t matter. Assets titled as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, community property with rights of survivorship, or tenancy by entirety will be automatically passed to the surviving owner. So make sure that you review existing titled assets to make sure ties with your ex-spouse are severed.
If you want to know more about the legal documents you need to accomplish before you remarry, schedule a consultation with Lyttle Law Firm. Call us at 512.215.5225 or drop us a message through our contact form.