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Updating estate planning documents in a second marriage

Many District of Columbia residents who have been through a divorce and are marrying for the second time tend to be more realistic about their futures. The need to protect themselves in case something goes wrong most likely includes reviewing an existing estate plan, since estate planning in a second marriage often looks very different from how it was done the first time around. Updating these documents is crucial to protect heirs, beneficiaries and even a new spouse.

First and foremost, the individual will most likely want to remove his or her ex-spouse from his or her documents as a beneficiary. Under ordinary circumstances, an individual's spouse serves as executor, trustee and/or attorney-in-fact for him or her. If these references are not changed prior to the second marriage, the situation could quickly become complicated if the individual becomes incapacitated or dies.

Further, updates may need to be made to ensure that any inheritances for children from the prior marriage are protected. Moreover, a person may want to provide for his or her new spouse if he or she dies first. Beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance policies may also need to be changed.

Fortunately, estate planning can be tailored to a variety of circumstances. Changes in the family dynamic can be reviewed to determine what updates will be needed in order to meet a new set of estate planning goals. District of Columbia residents can make changes to their estate plans as often as necessary to ensure that events occur in accordance with their wishes.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate Planning for Blended Families", Alexandra Smyser, Feb. 27, 2015

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