Marrying again later in life? Beautiful! Do talk about your hopes for how assets are to be shared with loved ones when you die. Better yet, experts say, make a plan. Don’t forget to check on your beneficiary designations too. Who knows, you may still have a former spouse in-line to inherit!
Don’t keep your hopes about assets to yourself. Realistic and transparent family communication is especially important with the complexities of large and blended family networks. Then too, in many second marriages, one spouse may enter the partnership “with more” than the other. More as in—more assets—or more debt. Transparency and pro-active estate planning efforts are best for all. As AARP points out:
Most spouses aren’t financial equals when they marry, and this is particularly true for second marriages. If your new spouse moves into your house, for example, you may want your children to get the proceeds when the house is sold, rather than your spouse or your spouse’s children. Similarly, if you brought more assets to the marriage, you may want more of the money to go to your heirs than your spouse’s heirs.
“There’s no rule that says all children have to be treated equally,” says Jason Smolen, a principal in the Vienna, Virginia, firm SmolenPlevy Attorneys and Counsellors at Law. “There are a number of reasons why parents don’t treat children equally — sometimes it’s an unfortunate situation where a child is disabled, either mentally or physically.” In those cases, you’ll have to discuss with your spouse how to ensure that child is cared for….”
Estate Planning and Estate Bonds
Estate planning is for all of us, at every age, and financial stage—and life transitions, like entering a new marriage, provide an important opportunity to hit pause, update old plans, or make new ones. Legal experts point to plenty of sad stories that have unfolded after untimely celebrity deaths as a reminder to all of us to be proactive. A basic last will and testament goes a long way to ensuring that your affairs are in order for your loved ones should the unexpected occur. Importantly, when you create a will, you also designate an executor to oversee your affairs when you die—this is also a critical decision to review, now that you have a new marriage commitment.
As you roll up your sleeves on your estate plan, consider an estate bond. This is a type of fiduciary bond: it guarantees the beneficiaries that the estate will be administered in accordance with the law. Although often waived by families during the process of creating the will and naming an executor to administer it, estate bonds can help inspire the confidence of everyone involved. Sometimes bonds are required by probate court and can be referred to as executor, probate or personal representative bonds.
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Although it may seem obvious, experts observe that forgetting to update beneficiary designations on retirement plans or life insurance policies is common. The result? It could be a former spouse who ends up receiving these benefits, rather then a new partner, or other family member or friend. It’s best to periodically go through all bank accounts, life insurance and retirement accounts and make sure the listed beneficiaries are up to date with your wishes. Make sure your new partner knows your intentions and your plans. While you are “setting up house,” time to also update your healthcare directives and power of attorney too.
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.