Should I change my will if I remarry?

Losing a spouse late in life is devastating, but perhaps especially for older people who have enjoyed decades of marriage with their spouse. Being alone after many years of companionship can be very lonely, especially with adult children grown and grandchildren busy with school and social activities. It’s no wonder many seek to date, find someone special again – and remarry.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, about 40 percent of weddings in 2013 included at least one spouse-to-be who had been married before. Of those weddings, one-fifth of them were for couples who both had been married at least once before. Men were more likely to remarry than women, the research showed.

But while remarriage is wonderful for older men and women, it also can cause legal nightmares for children and other relatives when the husband or wife dies.

If you plan to remarry, you absolutely need to change your will and update your estate plan before you walk down the aisle. Meet with an experienced estate planning attorney, who will help you outline who you want to receive your assets and belongings after you pass. As long as the will shows the intent of the deceased, the courts are usually accommodating.

Before you remarry, you might consider an airtight prenuptial agreement. Most courts recognize a signed prenup even if the second or third spouse protests it after its creator has died. Most assets and finances in a remarriage shouldn’t be combined, anyway. Lay out that stipulation in your prenup, and don’t break it no matter the circumstances. And remember, prenups aren’t just for the wealthy. If you have any assets, including a house, stocks and retirement accounts, an prenuptial agreement is appropriate.

Some people choose to establish a QTIP trust as an option to protect adult children. A Qualified Terminable Interest Property trust rolls over the children’s assets into the surviving second spouse’s name so that he or she receives an inheritance. However, when he or she dies, the children from the first marriage are the beneficiaries, and will receive their share. An irrevocable living trust is also ideal because it cannot be changed once it is set up by the person before he or she dies.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to modifying your estate before your remarry. Protect yourself, your new spouse and your children. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.


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