If your upcoming wedding is your second or subsequent marriage, it’s important not to forget about your estate plan in the midst of everything else you need to think about. This is even more crucial if you have children from previous marriages or relationships.
Whether you’re divorced or widowed, you likely made some changes to your estate plan once you were no longer married. If you didn’t, you need to look at that estate plan as soon as possible. If you don’t have one, this is the time to start putting one in place.
Every situation, of course, is unique. That’s why working with an estate planning professional is key. However, let’s look at a few things you’ll likely want to update if you’re revising your current estate plan.
This likely needs to be updated to include your new spouse. If you die without a will (intestate), your spouse will get the amount designated under state law. You may want them to have more (or less) than that or leave specific assets to them. If they don’t wish to be included in your will, that should be designated in your prenuptial agreement so there’s no question that they agreed not to take an inheritance.
If you have children from other relationships, it’s never wise to leave everything to a spouse and count on them to share it with your children. Include them as separate beneficiaries, either in your will or living trust. You may need to set up separate trusts for them if you haven’t already –especially if they’re still minors.
Don’t forget to update these (as needed) on things like your retirement and investment accounts and life insurance policies. Updating this information in your estate plan isn’t enough. Financial institutions and other companies are required to follow the beneficiary designations they have on file.
Consider whether you want your new spouse to have power of attorney (POA) over your finances and health care if you become incapacitated. Do you want them to be the personal representative (executor) for your estate plan and/or trustee for any trusts?
As noted, every situation is highly unique. Your best first step is to get sound legal guidance. This can help you ensure that your wishes are codified and clear and that your loved ones are financially protected when you’re gone.