When life changes, it is important to be thorough in updating your will and estate planning documents. In 2019, Pew Research reported that 45% of Americans believe that living arrangements “make no difference.” This was up from 32% in 2010.
Americans may therefore have an increasingly casual attitude toward marriage, divorce and cohabitation. A casual attitude will not protect your assets, however. Divorced individuals who remarry should make diligent efforts to protect their estate interests within their new blended family context.
Children from prior marriage
When divorced with kids and single it is fairly simple to allocate your full estate to your biological children. In a new relationship, it becomes complicated if you have a new biological child, or adopt a stepchild through a second marriage. Make sure that your estate planning documents match your wishes.
Powers of attorney
You may also want to change your power of attorney. It is common for a divorced, single person to name their siblings or a close friend as a power of attorney. When a new significant other enters the picture, it usually follows that you entrust this person with making end-of-life care decisions. This includes access to bank accounts. Update accordingly.
If you are divorced and single, you might keep your ex on your life insurance or retirement as a beneficiary. But when you remarry, insurance companies and retirement account managers will only honor what the documents say. If you need to make a change, make sure to do it in a legal fashion. Nothing is automatic. You must spell it out very clearly in order for a probate administrator to carry out your wishes.