If you answered yes, congratulations on this new chapter in your life! Are your financial plans ready? We know this is an odd question for the most romantic day of the year. Most people do not feel the flames of desire when talking about their Last Will and Testament (“Will”). You will not see “Be My Health Care Proxy” etched on one of those cute little candy hearts or hear Huey Lewis and The News singing about their “Power of Attorney.” But there is nothing more loving than protecting the future of the people who are most important to you and making sure your finances are in shape so you can keep managing theirs.
This has always been important in personal relationships, but love, marriage and divorce are more complex today. The divorce rate remains high, blended families are becoming more common, and many couples build their lives together without getting married. So here are some sweet ideas for taking care of your true loves in this ever-changing world.
When Your Ex Has a New Valentine, Protect the Ties That Bind Your Property.
We cannot do anything about your broken heart, but we can offer guidance about picking up the financial and legal pieces of an expired relationship.
Separation and divorce are sad, stressful times, and many spouses, understandably, just want it over with. They may not be aware that their soon-to-be-former partner has hidden property that should be divided up much like the family home and other known joint possessions. The good news is that you may still be able to claim your share of that property, even years later and even if your ex has remarried. If your ex dies, the property could pass to the surviving spouse – so speak to an attorney to be sure you get everything you were entitled to a long time ago.
Second Time Around? A Matter of Trust.
Every time you say, “I do,” the financial and legal issues grow exponentially more complex, especially if there are children from previous relationships. All kinds of material questions arise, and they can be downright mind-bending. Who controls the college fund? Does the new spouse have any say in these matters? What if you die before your new spouse and before you have updated your financial documents, so your former spouse gets everything, and your new family gets nothing? What if you accidentally disinherit your own biological children because your advisor chose the wrong kind of trust, or you never had one in the first place? Even if you have a Will to stipulate who gets your property after you pass away, it could still be delayed in the excruciating court process known as probate. FYI – anyone can try to challenge a Will (in Court) they do not believe is valid.
None of this gets better with age. In fact, the older you are when you remarry, the more accounts and property you will bring into the marriage that demand the attention of an estate planning attorney. So, if you have not yet set up a trust to manage assets like retirement savings, life insurance policies, brokerage accounts, and real estate, now is the time to get that done.
We are not telling you not to splurge on candlelight dinners or a luxurious couples massage for Valentine’s Day. But after you plan those romantic gestures, get a gift that shows you care about the other things that matter. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or email@example.com to get started with a free phone consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.