The legal practice area known as “estate planning” is an umbrella term to cover what you want to have happen upon your death. The paperwork that outlines your wishes can include a number of tools, such as paperwork designating who receives what, information on which medical treatments you do or do not want to be performed, and naming someone to be in charge of the asset distribution process. Some clients choose to utilize all of these estate planning tools, while others may rely on one to have their wishes followed. Regardless of the number of estate planning options used, it is critical that you revisit the details of all legal documents to be sure they reflect your current wishes for the future. People who remarry and formed a will or trust years ago often forget to update the details of these important documents. Failure to edit these documents after your second marriage can lead to a number of issues, including accidentally disinheriting your children, or causing the new spouse to be sharing assets with the children from the first marriage.

Updating Beneficiaries

If you have a will in place, you have listed beneficiaries who will receive any assets or properties that you have given to them at your death. In most cases, individuals will name their spouse as the primary beneficiary, or the person who receives the most from the inheritance. If you divorce and remarry, yet fail to update beneficiaries listed in legal documents, your former spouse is generally treated as having predeceased you for purposes of your will. However, that former spouse may still receive money and property that you have. This is because you failed to change the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and more. The beneficiaries listed on these accounts and policies override those listed in a will. So, even if you updated your will, it is critical to update these other beneficiaries so your wishes are followed and also make sure your ex-spouse does not receive the majority of your inheritance.

What About the House?

Did you and your second spouse purchase a home together? If so, both of your names should be listed on the house’s deed. If your intention is to pass your home down to your children after your death, you may need to take a second look at the deed’s details. If the deed states, “joint tenancy with right of survivorship” or “tenancy by the entirety”, the home automatically becomes fully owned by the surviving spouse after the other spouse’s death. Deeds can often override what is listed in your will, making it critical to have a reputable estate planning attorney take a look at your estate planning tools and other legal documents to be sure they coincide.

Delaying the Inheritance

If you have children who are young adults or have poor money management skills, there are ways that you can designate assets or property to them at a delayed rate by keeping the assets in a trust for the benefit of those children. This is the best way for you to be sure that your children will be given the proper amount or that it will be given to them when you would like. You define the terms of what you want in a trust document. It is best to have a trustee other than your second spouse to avoid conflict between your “first family” children and your second spouse.

Contact a Naperville, IL Estate Planning Lawyer

In many cases, the bliss of getting remarried can make you forget about the legal dealings that need adjusting once you say, “I do.” Regardless of your age, you should have estate planning tools set in place and they should be updated accordingly. As you can see, there are other legal contracts and documents that may supersede a will or other estate planning documents. The Gierach Law Firm, LLC understands the various legal areas involved in estate planning, including commonly overlooked documents that can get in the way of your wishes. Our Illinois estate planning attorneys are well-equipped to formulate a will, trust, or other estate planning tool and continue to update the documents as necessary. For help, call our Naperville office today at 630-756-1160 or our Hoffman Estates office at 847-519-0505 to schedule your initial consultation.



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