42 million adults in the U.S. have been married more than once. Remarriage is on the rise for Americans ages 55 and older. People who plan to remarry or who already are in a second marriage can face complex estate planning challenges. The individuals usually bring their own assets into the marriage. They may also have children from prior marriages whose inheritances they wish to protect. The discussion can get pretty sticky real quick.
Here are 10 of the most important questions to ask for estate planning in a second marriage:
1. When the first of you passes away, what access should the survivor have to the deceased spouse’s assets?
2. Does your spouse know what assets you own or how to access them in case of emergency? This is especially important for your digital assets (online accounts of all kinds).
3. What assets will be left to your respective children?
4. If either of you are divorced or widowed, consider what impact remarriage may have on your right to claim social security benefits on your ex-spouse’s account. You could accidentally give up a lot of money!
5. Which assets will you each continue to own individually versus jointly?
6. Are there any assets that will be retitled in both of your names, such as a your home, vacation home or bank accounts?
7. What should you do, if anything, with beneficiary forms associated with your retirement plan and other investment accounts?
8. Are either of you bringing any debts into the marriage? Who will pay them?
9. Do each of you have a Will or Trust in place that needs to be updated? (the answer is always “yes”).
10. Besides a Will, what other estate planning tools may be necessary, i.e. an advance healthcare directive or power of attorney?
Will you continue working with your current financial advisors or choose a new advisor to help you manage your financial plan together?
Asking these kinds of questions can help you each get a sense of one other’s perspective on estate planning. Ideally, you should be having these types of discussions before the marriage takes place to minimize potential conflicts later. This can also help you decide if a prenuptial agreement may be necessary to protect your individual financial interests. But if you’ve already remarried, it may be a good idea to have this discussion sooner, rather than later.
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Fiffik Law Group can help facilitate this conversation and suggest an estate plan that will achieve your goals. Contact us to schedule a one-on-one consult with one of our attorneys.