In today’s modern society, more and more people have been divorced or are remarrying after a divorce. The estate planning issues become more complex when addressing issues of divorce and remarriage. Part of the problem sometimes stems from the all too often bitter nature of divorce. The other part simply stems from the fact that there are more people, and consequently issues, to deal with when facing a divorced couple or persons who have been previously married.
Life insurance is often made payable directly to the spouse and children. If the ex-spouse is on the policy as a beneficiary, most divorced people need to make sure that they change the beneficiary. If the children are named as beneficiaries, and one of the parents die, the other parent usually gains custody of the children. If so, the surviving parent (e.g., the ex-spouse) will probably control the money that is left to the children from life insurance. One solution to this problem is to have the insurance payable to a trust for the children or a separate living trust which you control.
Along with a new marriage comes the issue of whether the ex-spouse should be able to inherit property from the deceased. Many people do not change their wills to include their new family. Although there are laws to protect new spouses who were not named in a will created before marriage, such remedies often require the parties going to court to litigate the issues. In addition, the laws of intestate succession may not necessarily distribute the assets properly because it does not address the issue of remarriage. A trust or will can resolve many of these concerns.
Another issue to consider is who should be named as a trustee or executor. Many times, if you name your present spouse and have children from a prior marriage, the children may be dissatisfied with such a choice. This is especially true if your new spouse and children have a strained relationship.
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