How to Avoid Estate Planning Mishaps

If you’re worried about how second marriage might affect your estate plan, there are some helpful tips to know from the get-go.

What to Look Out For

Unforeseen legal consequences from second or third marriages can undo careful estate planning, leaving heirs disenfranchised and bitter.

Another thing to consider is who receives the personal belongings of a deceased parent. While a car may come with a title, a family heirloom like grandma’s necklace doesn’t. A parent may have said a specific item is designated for a particular son or daughter, but it can be difficult to prove it actually belonged to the parent rather than the new spouse.

One good rule of thumb: when someone passes, change the locks. There have been cases where distant relatives or neighbors show up and start picking up possessions they claim were left to them.

Even if both the parent and new spouse pass away, matters might not be untangled for potential heirs. For example, if the husband’s death is followed by the new wife’s death three days later, her kids may come in and claim all the property is theirs, as she inherited it while she was alive for those three days.

Disenfranchised Heirs

It is smart to consider prenuptial agreements, something particularly useful for couples with existing children and remarrying later on in life. Prenups are no longer just a document for the wealthy.

When someone divorced gets remarried, verify who the listed beneficiary is on all accounts because the old spouse is not always automatically cut out and could end up inheriting all the assets. Even where he or she is removed, you might not be happy with the beneficiary who replaces the Ex by statute.

Also, familiarize yourself with how your state’s laws affect inheritances. Some states allow the surviving spouse to continue living in their deceased spouse’s home. If the deceased had children from a prior marriage, they could have a lengthy wait before receiving their inheritance. If most of the deceased’s wealth is tied up in the home, this could present a thorny situation.

When moving across state lines, particularly in a second or third marriage, it’s crucial to have an understanding of what rights the spouse has attained because of the move. Finding a reliable professional to help walk you through all of these situations will allow you to preserve your estate and assets best.

Estate Planning & Tax Preparation with Cohen & Burnett

Cohen & Burnett is has been a top choice for Estate Planning and Implementation and Tax Planning strategies in the Washington, DC area for over 25 years. To learn about our celebrated legal staff and our estate planning services, please visit our homepage today.



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