If you have already been married, you need to plan more specifically to accomplish your goals.
Before you walk down the aisle and say “I do,” you need “to do” careful planning.
The best advice I have is echoed in a CNBC article, titled “Getting remarried? Protect your assets and your interests”: plan ahead and know the laws.
You cannot do either of these alone.
You will need an experienced estate planning attorney to help.
Unless you are proactive, you may unknowingly disinherit your children, especially if their relationship with your new spouse is rocky at best.
In every state except Georgia, a spouse is given the right to make an elective share against the estate of his or her dead spouse or have the right to community property.
What does this mean?
Your new spouse could inherit assets from your estate even if omitted from your will.
Your will need to explicitly exclude the spouse if you want him or her to get less than the amount outlined in intestate laws.
Also, you need to know how laws may grant rights to your retirement accounts and property, including individual ERISA retirement accounts.
Remember, without a will, power of attorney and health care directive, you have given up control of decisions should you become incapacitated.
What does this mean?
Your children could have no say in your affairs.
Protect your estate from your ex-spouse.
If there are no stipulations, remove your ex-spouse from your beneficiary designations.
Do not let your ex have the assets you want to leave to your children or your new spouse.
Know how much control you want to give your news spouse.
Ask yourself these questions:
Should your new spouse be your trustee, agent or executor?
If so, you may make things more difficult for children from your prior marriage.
Should your assets be held jointly or separately?
If jointly, your new spouse would receive these assets directly without probate.
Should you include your spouse on the deed to your home?
Doing this would give your spouse a place to live if you died first.
Are there items you want to give to specific children?
Directly outline this in your will.
There are many ways you can mess up your estate plan with a blended family.
To help avoid issues, do the following:
- Update your beneficiary designations,
- Define joint and separate assets,
- Get a prenuptial agreement,
- Put your instructions in writing,
- Title your property correctly, and
- Purchase long-term care insurance.
With an experienced estate planning attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing your wishes will be met when it comes to providing for your family.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: CNBC (July 28, 2016) “Getting remarried? Protect your assets and your interests”