Updating estate plans before remarrying

Getting married more than once is a common occurrence among Americans According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of marriages in 2013 were remarriages. Another survey has found that an estimated 9 percent of U.S. residents have an out-of-date will and 63 percent had none. New Jersey residents who are getting remarried or have children from a previous relationship should make sure to update their estate plan.

A remarriage coupled with estate planning documents that are not current can cause issues for a decedent's children and recent spouse. However, there are steps individuals can take so that assets are distributed to beneficiaries as the owners intend.

Individuals who do not possess a will should prepare one, or their assets will be allocated according to state laws, which may not be according to their wishes. Those who already have a will should ensure that it is updated to remain current with their life changes.

Individuals should also make sure to update their beneficiaries on all legal documents. This includes life insurance policies and qualified retirement plans. People should realize that the designations take precedence over a contrary provision in a will. Other documents that should be updated include health care directives and powers of attorney.

The title to all assets should be examined to ensure that links with an ex-spouse are removed. An estate planning attorney can help to ensure that all of the relevant documents take into account the upcoming marriage and are brought current to remove any beneficiaries who clients no longer wish to share in their estates. Even if clients aren't getting remarried, it is a good idea to conduct a periodic review of these documents.

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