A marriage can have a significant impact on your estate plan. Married couples generally create an estate plan together— all or most of the marital assets are typically passed onto the surviving spouse. Only when he or she passes does the estate plan take effect. However, this is not always the case, particularly if one of the spouses has children from a previous marriage, or if there is a large age difference between the spouses. Moreover, if you are in the middle of a separation or a divorce, which can take over one year to finalize in many cases, it can have a significant impact on how you should handle your estate planning.
How Marriage Impacts Estate Planning
Marriage makes it easier for you to leave assets to your spouse after death. Even if you fail to do any estate planning or create a will, Illinois intestate succession states that a spouse inherits all of the intestate property. If there are children, then the intestate property is split between the spouse and children 50/50.
The Effect of Divorce or Separation on Estate Planning
Sometimes spouses decide to do a trial separation, also known as an enhancement separation if the couple decides to work on their relationship before deciding to divorce. Psychology Today states that the average enhancement separation is six months. There are also scenarios where both spouses agree to remain married even though their romantic relationship is over.
If you plan to separate or get divorced, it is important to review your estate plans. Documents such as your will, trust, or insurance policies may continue to list your spouse as the beneficiary, even if you would prefer everything to go to your children or other family members.
According to Pew Research, 40 percent of marriages in 2013 involved at least one spouse who had been previously married. If you are going into a second or third marriage, it is important to realize that you may still have financial obligations from your previous marriage, such as debt that a spouse incurred, or family obligations, such as children from your first spouse. Blended families have increased the chances of fighting over any assets that have not been accounted for through proper estate planning.
Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer
Anytime your marital status changes, it is wise to review all of your estate planning documents with a qualified Lombard, IL estate planning attorney. The lawyers at A. Traub & Associates understand that love changes over time, and life circumstances may warrant a modification of your estate plan. Regardless of your marital situation, you want your family taken care of in the event of your death. Call our office today at 630-426-0196 to begin the conversation about your estate.