According to experts, nearly one-half of new marriages include at least one partner who had been previously been married. Out of those same number of marriages, almost a quarter were between people who had both previously stepped down the aisle. This makes for some challenging situations when it comes to assets and retirement. Here is some critical information that you should consider if you are one of the thousands of couples that are getting remarried.
Tip 1: Educate Yourself
Most couples do not understand that marriage automatically gives significant legal rights to the new spouse. Some of the rights that a spouse automatically gains upon marriage can include:
• The right to be the legal guardian for the other spouse
• The right to be the personal representative of a deceased spouse in legal or medical decisions
• The right to a percentage of the other spouse’s estate
• The right to money, ownership, or use of a house belonging to the couple or the deceased spouse
• The right to personal property, including heirloom assets of the deceased spouse
• The automatic right to be a beneficiary of ERISA accounts belonging to a deceased spouse
• The right to be financially supported under filial support laws
Any of these factors could be a surprise if you do not know what they are. Take the time to do some basic research and learn what you are getting yourself into. A few hours of internet research could make the difference between going into your new marriage with eyes open and getting a nasty surprise after you have already tied the knot.
Tip 2: Make A Will Or Update Your Existing One
Most couples do not like having to deal with personal legal planning. These processes take time and can cost money. However, in the long run, proper planning and organization can save time, effort, stress, and heartache when you or your spouse passes away. There are lower cost alternatives online for services like Legal Zoom that can walk you through the process and help you complete the proper paperwork. So if you have an existing will, be sure it is updated and if you do not have one, get one as soon as possible.
Tip 3: Consult An Expert
Financial experts suggest that couples who are considering a remarriage should meet with legal counsel to understand what their rights are and how to limit those rights and powers if they need to. This becomes particularly important if there are significant assets like real estate, family businesses, or other large ticket items involved. Additionally, you and your spouse should talk about what you would like to do if either of you is involved in a serious accident involving life support or if one of you becomes incapacitated.
Tip 4: Get A Prenuptial Agreement
Financial experts say that a prenuptial agreement is worth getting even if you are not wealthy. The reason for this is that if a new spouse dies without one, the surviving spouse could inherit a spousal right of election. This becomes tricky if you have significant assets and children from a previous marriage. Likewise, in the event of divorce, it is better to have specific direction with respect to assets in order to avoid conflict.
Tip 5: Talk To Your Spouse About Finances And Retirement
It may seem like a strange thing to do, but experts say that sitting down for a discussion about finances and retirement is a smart thing to do prior to getting remarried. Talk about the details and make sure you are on the same page. It is also a good idea to talk about your assets and what is on the table. This can eliminate significant conflict if there are differences between what each spouse is expecting.
NOTE: Nothing in this article should be construed as financial or legal advice. We recommend you seek qualified and experienced counsel from the appropriate experts before making any legal or financial decisions.
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