It is not unusual for an older person to remarry after a divorce or the death of a spouse. Data from the Census Bureau shows that the rate of remarriage for those aged 55 and over sat at 57% in 2013.
Remarriage can be a wonderful thing, but it carries some special considerations. For one, if you remarry without creating an estate plan, it could cause your heirs to lose out on an inheritance if you are not careful.
Remarriage and your beneficiary accounts
Certain financial accounts, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, must have a beneficiary named to them. The beneficiary is the person who will receive the account assets upon your death.
Many of these accounts require your spouse to be named as the primary beneficiary. This can cause problems if you divorce your first spouse and remarry but do not change your account beneficiaries to name your current spouse as beneficiary.
Without such a change, your ex will receive these account assets upon your death, despite what your wishes would otherwise be and even if you had a will that stated otherwise.
Dying without a will is referred to as dying intestate. This means that state law will dictate who is to inherit your estate, with no arguments.
Dying intestate can be problematic if you have adult children when you remarry. State intestacy laws may dictate that your current spouse receive some or all of your estate, which could leave your adult children with no inheritance whatsoever, even if you would have liked otherwise.
Who gets the house?
If you remarried at an older age, you may already own a home. There are various ways a home could be titled, which makes a difference when you pass away.
In certain circumstances, your current spouse will receive your home if you die without a will, even if you would have preferred for someone else to inherit it.
As this shows, estate planning is important as you age. You likely have preferences about who you want to inherit your assets, but without a will to back your intentions up your desired heirs may be out of luck. Planning for the inevitable can save you and your loved ones a lot of heartache.