If you’ve remarried, it’s important to think about what this may mean for your estate plan. This is especially true if you have children from a previous marriage, or if your spouse has children of their own. Failing to update your estate plan may result in your ex receiving the entirety of your estate. Failing to account for your new relationship could also effectively disinherit your children.
Approximately half of all couples in the U.S. have been divorced or have remarried. Given this large number, it’s important to keep the following considerations in mind when you’re thinking about updating your estate plan.
1. A simple will might not meet your needs
A simple will leaves everything to the surviving spouse. If you are an older couple with no children or other close loved ones, this option may be just fine. If this is not the case, a simple will could leave your heirs without any assets. The surviving spouse has no legal obligation to share the proceeds of the estate with the deceased’s children or anyone else. If all you have is a simple will, it might be worth your while to explore more comprehensive estate planning options.
2. Think about establishing a trust
Trusts are not only designed for the wealthy. There are trusts which can benefit people regardless of how many assets they may have. You could set up a trust which will leave your assets to your spouse for the remainder of their lifetime. What remains of the assets in the trust can then go to your children. This can help benefit your spouse while avoiding the unintended consequences that can result from having a simple will.
3. Name a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions
People who have no other type of estate planning documents in place may still have a power of attorney or advanced health care directive. Consider who you’ve named to make decisions on your behalf if you should ever become incapacitated. Will that person be open to providing your new spouse with information on your healthcare status? Do you still trust them to respect your wishes? If not, take the time to update these documents.
It’s always a good idea to revisit your estate plan
You should think about revisiting your estate plan every three to five years. Even if there hasn’t been a significant shift in the makeup of your family, it’s important to consider if your plan reflects your current worldview. A skilled professional can help you make any necessary updates.