When you are walking down the aisle on your wedding day, divorce is the last thing on your mind; but the fact is that it happens… quite frequently. Upwards of half of all first marriages end in divorce in the United States, making it important to recognize that changes in marital status will affect your existing estate plan.
Even if you understand this, it’s easy to put off making any changes until things settle down and the future becomes more clear. This is one way to look at it, but it is extremely risky. Nobody knows when their day is going to come, and when you go through life with an out-of-date estate plan you are playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun.
The majority of people who do get divorced eventually remarry. Most who remarry have children from their previous marriage. If you’re in this situation you may want to consider executing a prenuptial agreement defining the personal property and assets of each party entering into the union. Some people criticize these agreements as being cynical, but if you are a responsible parent who loves his or her children, making sure their interests are protected is anything but cynical. It’s irresponsible to not protect them.
Just about everyone has heard of premarital agreements, but post-marital agreements exist in some states as well, and they can be useful legacy planning tools. If you and your spouse were to disagree regarding how community property should be utilized and subsequently passed on to your loved ones, it is possible to enter into an agreement dividing the property. Each individual would then be free to make independent plans and a source of strain on the marriage could be eliminated.
To learn more about how these types of marital agreements can fit into your long-term estate plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch with an estate planning attorney to arrange for a consultation.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday