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Remarriages may cause trouble for estate plans

Fewer than 20 percent of divorced people remarry, but more than half of divorcees aged 55 years or more retie the knot. Most people are more cautious when stepping down the aisle for the second or third time, but some still make mistakes like providing for people in their families. A new marriage without proper estate planning may cause financial problems for children and others from previous marriages.

Most parents want their children to benefit from properties, financial assets, stocks and retirement savings upon their death. Many of these thoughts come up during a first marriage or at the birth of a child, but new marriages can throw all those plans out the window. Wills may be invalidated by new personal arrangements, leaving decisions on inheritances to the state.

New spouses may become the automatic beneficiaries to retirement accounts, insurance policies and financial instruments such as trusts. If this is the case without correction, entitlements for children or other previous beneficiaries may go to a new spouse.

Some retirement accounts, like 401(k) assets, may require by law that a current spouse is the beneficiary when he or she survives the earner. Facts like these may encourage people to revisit their entire estate planning process.

An attorney is one of the most useful members of an estate planning team. People looking to secure the future of their inheritors and assets may retain legal representation to assist with making or editing estate plans, processing vital documents like wills and coming up with the best strategy to preserve and transfer value.

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