Remarriage can affect estate planning and distribution

It's no secret that divorce is a common occurrence in California and throughout the country. So, too, is remarriage after divorce. While statistics show that less than one out of every five divorced individuals remarry, the rate is significantly higher for those 55 and older. For this population, remarriage occurs 57 percent of the time.

Remarrying after a divorce can bring about a lot of changes. Of course, emotionally, an individual has fallen in love with someone else and decided to share his or her life with that person and, in many instances, his or her family. Things can change logistically, too. Parenting time with kids from a previous marriage, adapting to new routines with stepchildren and generally getting acclimated to the ins and outs of daily life can be an adjustment. While most people are able to recognize these changes, many of these individuals neglect to identify the ways that remarriage after divorce can affect their estate and how it will be distributed upon their passing.

Passing away without an estate plan means assets will be distributed in accordance with the law, which oftentimes contradicts a person's wishes. For those who have kids from a prior marriage, a lack of critical estate planning documents could leave those children with little or no part of estate assets. There are many ways this can be solved, such as by creating wills and trusts or changing named beneficiaries in those documents and on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. With regard to family heirlooms, it is best to be as specific as possible when denoting to whom they will be left. This can be completed through a will or a trust, depending on how an individual wants that asset to be handled.

A change in family dynamics should spur individuals into action with regard to their estate plan. Those who have yet to create one may want to start planning immediately. Those who already have an estate plan may want to revisit it and change it so that it conforms to their wishes.

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