When you are young and starting out, estate planning doesn’t typically rank as high of a priority as finding the perfect wedding dress, wedding venue or honeymoon destination. However, for senior citizens in Michigan who want to remarry, consider several estate planning mistakes to avoid. An experienced elder law and estate planning attorney can help you with the next chapter of your life. Although your new spouse is extremely important to your happiness, your children, grandchildren and loved ones also affect your estate planning decisions. A new marriage may affect your Social Security benefits as well as your assets. In addition to being open and honest with your new spouse, communicate with children and step-children. Make sure loved ones have copies of your will or the contact information of your elder attorney.
Hiding all the facts
According to an article by desmoinesregister.com, the first step when estate planning for a second or third marriage is to open up the lines of communication. Experts say money is a major cause of stress as well as divorce. Start a marriage off right with full disclosure about estate planning, assets and your intentions.
Failing to update a will
A common mistake people make when remarrying is to not update the will. You should know if you are marrying a person who doesn’t have a will. Before you get married, consult with an elder law attorney. After you marry, go together with your spouse to update legal papers and beneficiaries as it relates to your assets.
Neglecting to ask questions
Another mistake people make when they remarry is assuming they understand a spouse’s will. Because legal language is often complicated, don’t be afraid to ask your elder law about language that seems ambiguous. If you have a blended family, you need to stipulate whether money will be left to your children, your step children, step children from a previous marriage or a combination.
Letting your spouse decide
Instead of letting one spouse make all the estate planning decisions, work as a team. One option to consider is a qualified terminable interest property trust which will allow your new spouse to live off your assets and stay in your house while still leaving an inheritance in tact for the children from a prior marriage. According to the desmoinesregister.com, a QTIP trust provides for your children from a previous marriage because it preserves the principal for the children. What’s more, the assets that go to a QTIP trust qualify for marital deduction so it reduces the estate taxes at your death.
Ignoring the wealth disparity
An elder law attorney in Michigan can also help you when one spouse is wealthier than the other spouse. When you even things out, it’s likely you can take advantage of important tax savings if the less wealthy spouse passes away first. Talking about estate planning is a sensitive topic for many couples, but it’s imperative to prepare.
If you decide you want a prenuptial before marriage or a post-nuptial agreement after marriage, talk to your elder law attorney. It’s important to understand the rights and responsibilities of marriage and what will happen if you divorce. Elder law attorney Christopher J. Berry and the Elder Care Team will work hard to review and adjust your beneficiaries to ensure your assets go to the heirs you want. You need a retirement plan trust that recognizes your special needs as a blended family. Christopher J. Berry will protect you with a Michigan Retirement Plan Trust that considers income tax and required minimum distributions ramifications. For more tips on estate planning for a second marriage, please contact us.