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Estate planning can help with asset protection when remarrying

Many Massachusetts residents are fortunate enough to find love more than once in their lives. One of the challenges that these individuals could encounter as they start their new lives is to find a way to provide for children from a prior marriage while also taking care of a new spouse after death. Estate planning can help with asset protection for both when remarrying.

Along with 48 other states, the state of Massachusetts allows for the possibility of a current spouse inheriting a portion of the deceased spouse's estate regardless of what a will provides. This could happen even if the surviving spouse is disinherited in the will. Therefore, creative estate planning will need to be done in order to ensure that everyone an individual wishes to provide for will receive the inheritance intended. 

For those with existing estate plans, a thorough review of the existing documents is in order to ensure that they still meet the individual's goals. For example, if a person fails to remove the former spouse as the beneficiary of a retirement account or insurance policy, the money might go to the former spouse in spite of what the will might say since the beneficiary designation form on file typically controls who receives those funds. Powers of attorney, which dictate who will make medical and financial decisions if the individual is incapacitated, should also be reviewed and changed as needed -- especially since most married couples name the other spouse as the agent. If this document is not updated after a divorce, the former spouse could end up being the one making these important decisions instead of the new spouse.

These are just some of the considerations that Massachusetts residents need to address when they remarry. In addition to asset protection, other variables such as the new family dynamic and taxes will also need to be taken into consideration. It might be necessary to completely revamp an estate plan to meet changing estate planning goals.

Source: CNBC, "Getting remarried? Protect your assets and your interests", Deborah Nason, July 28, 2016

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