The unforeseen legal consequences incurred by a second or even third marriage can snarl careful estate planning and leave heirs disenfranchised and bitter, warns On Wall Street in recent article entitled “Estate planning mishaps: How even the family bible is at stake.”
There are some unforeseen ramifications of remarriage. Question come up like, Who gets the personal belongings of a deceased parent? How do you prove title to personal property?
There’s no title to a family heirloom like a grandpa's pipe collection. A parent can say that specific items should go to a particular child, but its proving that they actually belonged to the parent rather than a new spouse is what’s difficult.
The death of a parent and the new spouse may not clear up issues for potential heirs. For example, the husband's death is followed three days later by the death of his new wife. Her children by a previous marriage may say all the property is there’s because the “surviving” wife inherited the property.
Folks should think about prenuptial agreements, which can be particularly useful for those with existing children and remarrying later in life. It’s not just for Brangelina. And if you are divorced and get remarried, verify the beneficiary listed on the accounts. Otherwise, the former spouse could end up inheriting the assets!
Be aware of how state laws can impact inheritances. There are some states that allow the surviving spouse to continue living in their deceased spouse's home. If the deceased had children by a prior marriage, they could be cooling their heels for some time before they receive their inheritance. This can create a dicey situation when most of the deceased client's wealth is tied up in the home.
Also, if you created an estate plan before you got remarried, you need to update it to include or specifically exclude your spouse or else your spouse could be entitled to his or her intestate share of the trust.
Likewise, when folks move from one state to another, especially when it’s a second or third marriage, they should talk with a qualified estate planning attorney to understand what rights that spouse has attained because of the move. There could be surprises. For example, in Oklahoma the surviving spouse has a right to the family bible.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: On Wall Street (Sept. 14, 2016) “Estate planning mishaps: How even the family bible is at stake”