Drafting a will or a comprehensive estate plan often is on the to-do list, but many unfortunately leave it at the bottom. Some will perhaps be tired of the legalities of the project if they have recently gone through a divorce, but it is still recommended for those who plan to remarry to update or create an estate plan. If a parent does not do this, the children from the first marriage may be unintentionally cut out of the will by a subsequent marriage.
How it could happen
According to the Census Bureau, over 50% will remarry after the death of a spouse or divorce. Those couples who plan to remarry should have a conversation about how to handle estate planning. There are many reasons for doing this:
- Assets associated with the previous marriage like a vacation home, artwork or family heirlooms can go to those who are emotionally attached to these assets.
- Retirement savings, life insurance policies, brokerage accounts, and business interests may inadvertently go to a subsequent spouse.
- A lack of planning commonly leads to family fights over assets after the death of a parent or spouse, often pitting children against stepparent.
- Those who die without a will, called dying intestate, leave probate courts to determine how to divide the estate.
- 401 (k) plans require the current spouse to be the beneficiary unless they legally agree not to be.
Updating these plans
No matter how thorough the trust, will or estate plan is, ones based on outdated information can be a nightmare for families. Situations can include accidentally leaving a previous wife on an insurance policy or retirement account – whoever is listed as the beneficiary gets the money. This point may work fine if the will is drafted after a divorce but before remarriage, but it is always wise to update estate plans and be as thorough as possible when doing so.