Checklist for Estate Planning When Remarrying

Checklist for Estate Planning When Remarrying — Tips from a Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer

A century ago, most people who got married remained married until “death do us part.” Divorces occurred, but not at the rate that divorces occur in this century. It is very common for an individual to marry twice or even three times during their lifetime. Some couples choose to live together as a family without remarrying.

Whatever the situation might be for you and your partner, it is important to consider estate planning issues when remarrying. There are several unique estate planning matters that a couple should consider before remarrying.

Below is a checklist for estate planning when remarrying. It is a good idea to discuss each matter with your partner and with an experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer before the wedding. However, if you need to revise your estate plan after remarriage, our estate planning law firm can help.

Estate Planning Checklist for Second Marriages

We titled the checklist for second marriages. However, it applies to subsequent marriages and couples who decide to live together and co-mingle assets, even though they may not choose to become legally married.

  1. Providing for Minor Children

If you have minor children from a previous marriage, you need to consider how you want to protect their inheritance in the event your second marriage ends. One of the best ways to ensure your minor children are protected is to set up a testamentary trust.

Your will bequeaths a portion or all of your estate to your minor children to be held in trust until they reach a specific age. A trustee you appoint manages the inheritance and uses the inheritance for the upkeep, care, and education of your children.

  1. Guardians for Minor Children

You can appoint a guardian to care for your children after your death in your will. This estate planning step is very important, especially if your children’s other parent is unable to take custody of your children for any reason. Your children’s step-parent will not have legal authority to retrain control and care of your child without a court order if you fail to name him or her as guardian in your will

  1. Beneficiary Designations

Beneficiary designations for life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and some financial accounts pass outside of the probate estate. You must review and update, if necessary, each beneficiary designation directly with the company. Minors cannot receive these accounts.

Therefore, you want to discuss ways to protect the funds in these accounts until your child reaches 18 years of age, such as having the funds transferred to a trust for the benefit of your child. A trust also gives you much more control over how the funds are used, and when your child receives these funds after becoming an adult.

  1. Providing for Your Current Spouse

You may also want to provide for your current spouse and step-children in your estate. Your will is a good place to begin because you can bequeath certain assets directly to your spouse and step-children. You may also consider using a trust and beneficiary accounts to provide for your second spouse after your death.

  1. Protecting Family Heirlooms

There could be certain family heirlooms or property that you want to remain with blood family members. You must carefully describe these items in your will and leave those items directly to a blood relative to keep them in the family. If you want your children or grandchildren to inherit the family heirlooms, consider placing the property within a trust to protect the property from other individuals and your children’s creditors and spouses.

  1. Special Trust Agreements

There are several special trust agreements that you may want to consider when estate planning for a blended family. For example, do you need a Special Needs Trust to protect a child or family member who has a disability or impairment? Do you want to create a pet trust to ensure your children’s beloved pet can remain with them after your death?

A Michigan trust attorney can review the various options available, including the pros and cons of each trust agreement, to help you decide if a trust meets your goals, desires, and needs for an estate plan.

  1. Health Care Directives

A minor child cannot make health care decisions for you. You need to choose a trusted individual, whether that is your current spouse, an adult child, or a trusted friend or family member who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Documents you want in your estate plan to protect your health care decisions include, but may not be limited to:

  • Health Care Directive
  • Living Will
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Authorization

You may also want to consider signing a Durable Power of Attorney so that someone has the authority to manage your finances if you become incapacitated.

Do You Need a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney if You Remarry?

The issues involved in estate planning for second and subsequent marriages can be difficult and complicated. You want to protect your new family, but there could also be concerns related to children and other family members.

A Michigan estate planning attorney with The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry can help. We listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and explain your options for estate planning for a second marriage.

If possible, it is a good choice to address these issues before the marriage. We encourage you to contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney in Michigan.

Call (844) 885-4200 or use the contact form on our website for additional information or to request an appointment.

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