Estate Planning after Marriage or Divorce

When major life events like marriage and divorce occur, it is a wise idea to review your estate plan. That’s because these life events have the potential to significantly change a person’s estate plan.


The purpose of this article is to review some key factors that you should consider about estate planning when you recently got married or divorced.


Estate Planning Issues Following Marriage


Any assets that a couple gains during a marriage will often be classified as marital property and viewed as equally owned by each partner in the couple. There are, however, some types of property that will remain as individual property even though a couple is married.


In some cases if you have a will before you marry and fail to update the terms of the will, your surviving spouse will be entitled to receive a share of your estate.


If you do not review your plan after a new marriage, you cannot be certain who will receive your property after your death. Instead, the best way to make sure that a surviving spouse will receive a specific amount after your death is to adequately update your estate plan.


When a will exists following a person’s death in New York, a surviving spouse is entitled to $50,000 or one third of an estate or conversely if there are no children, one half of the estate. To assert a right to this amount, all a person would need to do is have a lawyer file a claim against the estate with the New York Surrogate’s Court.


When a person dies without a will in New York, if there are no surviving children, a surviving spouse is able to receive the entire state. If a person in New York dies without a will and has surviving children, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $50,000 in assets and one half of the remainder of the estate.


Divorce and Estate Planning Advice


There are a number of regulations that impact an estate plan following a divorce. Many of these regulations exist to help carry out a person’s likely wishes after a divorce. Often, by the point a couple divorces, it is too late to keep inherited assets away from a former spouse even if you did not intend these assets to go to the other person.


One of the best ways to make sure that assets remain yours at the time of your divorce is to obtain a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. While these agreements do not always work, these agreements are often able to help protect assets.


Postnuptial or prenuptial agreements often state that each spouse will be required to give up their rights to any inheritance before or during a marriage. These agreements also state that each spouse has no rights to what the other spouse brings into a marriage.


Speak with a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Lawyer

No matter the life changes that you are going through, it is important to consider how these events will affect your estate plans. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C. today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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