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Estate Planning Considerations for Remarriage

Butler Law Oct. 15, 2020

In recent years, more older adults have been getting divorced. Many older people in South Carolina are also getting remarried. When people have had more than one family, it can complicate the financial picture. There are several estate planning problems that every remarried adult should be able to avoid.

Protect the Right People

The biggest problem for remarried adults is that they don’t necessarily construct an estate plan to reflect their present reality. They may intend to, but without help from an experienced attorney, it’s easy to make a mistake and leave their assets to the wrong people. There are a lot of potential heirs involved, after all, including the current spouse, prior spouses and children from prior marriages.

For example, many remarried people seek to protect their current spouse and adult children by using a marital trust. This allows a surviving spouse to use assets for the duration of their life. Then, they pass to the decedent’s children. There’s one big problem with this. As the surviving spouse ages, assets may fall into disrepair, or pieces of the estate may be sold off. There may not be much left for the children later on.

Using a different estate plan may ensure that everyone gets a share of the assets. For example, it’s possible to leave a life insurance policy for the surviving spouse and pass the house on to the children instead. Remarried people also need to be careful about changing the beneficiaries on their retirement accounts and insurance policies through work. If they don’t, it’s possible that benefits may bypass their current spouse and go to their first spouse or children instead.

An individual who wishes to update their estate plan after a remarriage may want to consult an attorney. An estate planning attorney may answer their client’s questions and craft documents that hold up under the scrutiny of probate court.