Header widget area left
Header widget area right
Viewing posts categorised under: Blog

Why You Should Consider Long-Term Care Planning

Mass Media
0 comments
Blog

long-term care planning

No one likes to think of a time when they might need assistance or long-term care, so planning for this possibility in life often gets put off and forgotten about. Most people first find out about long-term care planning when they or a loved one needs care, but by this time, it’s too late to plan and prepare. At this point, usually options are limited because of the lack of information and time as well as the immediate need for long term care services. 

Planning ahead for long-term care allows you to have more control over your future and give you peace of mind for any possibility that may arise. The lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta are committed to providing our clients with long-term care planning services that they are happy and comfortable with. Don’t let fear and procrastination stop you from planning for long-term care in your future. The earlier you start, the more options and protection you have with the long-term care planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm.

Why you should you look into long-term care planning?

Planning ahead for long term care is important because there is a good chance you may need some type of long-term care services if you live past the age of 65. Roughly about 70% of people over the age of 65 require some long-term care services and the likelihood of you needing these services increases with age.

Another good reason to talk with the long-term care planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta is so that you can understand everything regarding long-term care for when you need to make decisions for you and your future. Discussing long-term care planning with the attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm will expose you to the available service options in the area and community, what special conditions apply for receiving services, what the services cost and what payment options apply to desired long-term care planning services. Having this information helps ensure that you will have knowledge and an understanding of the options when you need long-term care and it makes it more likely that you will have more control over how you receive long-term care planning services when the time comes.

Having a clear understanding and basic knowledge regarding long-term care planning services is important because the cost of these services often exceeds what the average person can pay from income and other resources. By looking ahead and planning for long-term care now, you can save your assets and income for uses other than long-term care. 

Long-term care planning with Rhodes Law Firm means that you won’t leave your family or loved ones in a difficult situation to make hard decisions. When you decide to discuss long-term care planning with the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, there is a greater chance of being able to leave an estate to your heirs since it is less likely you will use up your financial resources and assets paying for long-term care. In the long run, that means less emotional and financial stress on your family and an improved quality of life.

Another main reason that many people choose to discuss long-term care planning for the future with the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm is the independence they feel choosing their own options. Your choices for receiving care when you need it is an easier pill to swallow if everything was taken care of by you beforehand. Your choices are important, so deciding exactly how you want your long-term care services is an advantage that many people appreciate.

Why most people don’t want to think about long-term care planning

There are a lot of reasons that people don’t want to plan ahead for long-term care. Usually the main reason is the natural tendency to avoid thinking about becoming dependent on others for your care and everyday life. Other reasons include misinformation about the risks of needing care and a lack of knowledge regarding long-term care and the payment options.

Many people don’t like to think about getting older, I mean who would? No one wants to think and plan for the day of when you develop a disability, become less independent or need someone to help you with personal care. However, many people don’t realize that the chances of needing long-term care once you get past age 65 are very likely. On the other hand, some people find it too difficult to raise these questions with their loved ones because of the difficulty it can be exploring plans and options. But long-term care planning is important and will provide peace of mind you deserve.

Another common misunderstanding is how expensive long-term care is and how it is paid for. A lot of individuals do not realize that health insurance, Medicare and/or disability coverage do not pay for most long-term care services. It is best to speak with a long-term care planning attorney, like the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, to discuss your options and decide the best option regarding long-term care and your future.

Is long-term care planning something you should check on?

If you are nearing the age of 65, it could be in your best interest to speak with an attorney at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta to discuss your long-term care planning options. Although thinking about the future and the possibility of needing assistance and care is tough, it could help and make both you and your loved ones lives emotionally and financially easier when the day comes. Be prepared for the future possibilities and get the peace of mind you deserve with the long-term care planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm. 

Around the Web: Planning Your Estate in a Pandemic

m3admin
0 comments
Blog, News

Planning your estate is essential in normal circumstances. Add in the uncertainty and risk that come along with a pandemic, and it really is a wise move to have your affairs in order. This article highlights that the suggestion of planning your estate now isn’t just based on the issues of morbidity, as many survive COVID-19, but if you require hospitalization or if you fall ill, it may bring you peace of mind to know everything is settled.

While estate planning can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Some helpful documents to get started, as listed by the Emporia Gazette, are:

  • Financial power of attorney – This would give someone of your choosing the authority to conduct your financial affairs if you are unable to do so
  • Last will and testament – choose how your assets are distributed and appoint an executor to oversee the distribution
  • Living trust – allows you to leave assets to heirs without probate, also provides more flexibility in regards to how you disperse your assets
  • Health care surrogate – should you become incapacitated, this person can act for you regarding your medical care
  • Living will – allows you to specify end-of-life treatments that you do or do not want

The process of estate planning or updating requires time, with notarization and witnesses necessary. During a time of quarantines and social distancing, those things may be more difficult to accommodate than usual. It is best to act sooner rather than later, and you can be content knowing that if the worst does happen, everything is already settled and in place.

Call Rhodes Law Firm today to get started!

10 Essential Estate Planning Tips

Mass Media
0 comments
Blog

estate planning

Most American adults do not have a will or a plan in place in case of a tragedy. The death of both parents in an accident can leave children’s fate left to a judge and your assets distributed the way a court deems fit and not by your wishes. Even in the even that a tragedy occurs, and you’re incapacitated, others will decide your healthcare options.

Having an estate plan in place can help you be prepared in the event of an unforeseen tragedy. If you die without a will or estate plan in place, state law determines where your assets are distributed. The attorney’s at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta help assist you in establishing an estate plan and protecting your hard-earned assets the way you want for when you can’t decide. 

Below are 10 tips to estate planning that the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm think you should know.

  1. It’s never too early to start planning

  • The first tip to estate planning is simple… research. If you’re reading this far, then you’ve already taken initiative to decide if you should create an estate plan for your future.

    Death is unavoidable, and excuses aren’t going to keep it from happening. No one knows exactly when their time is but being prepared and taking park in an estate plan built for you by the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm will provide you the peace of mind you deserve. Don’t allow pride and misconceptions to leave your estate and heirs broken and with nothing while also working through all the probate court hearings that follow. 

    If you want to start planning your estate, contact the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta and allow us to help you prepare for your future. Planning your estate includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Taking inventory of your assets & liabilities
  • Determining your beneficiaries
  • Deciding who will manage the plan
  • Deciding who will be your power of attorney & healthcare surrogate
  • Deciding who may be your children’s guardians
  1. Don’t draft documents yourself

  • Are valid & sound according to Georgia Law
  • Accurately reflect your wishes & inventory
  • Correctly define your intentions for the treatment of yourself & the disbursement of your property 

    The entire plan is crucial for deciding your health treatment and ensuring your assets are protected when you are unable to do so. If you do not draft the form correctly or understand certain clauses, it will cause errors for you after you’re gone when you can’t change them.

  1. Talk to your significant other about estate planning

  • Discuss the possible outcomes with your significant other for what would happen if you pass on before they do. If you are married, most likely guardianship of your shared children and all of your property and finances will transfer to your surviving spouse unless otherwise noted. 

    Things become more complicated if you have children from multiple partners. If this is the case, you should seek professional advice or counsel from the estate planning attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta

    Plan for the possibility that both you and your spouse will pass and discuss who should inherit your children and property. The conversation may be difficult to have, but it’s worth having to protect your property and hard-earned assets in the event of a tragedy.

  1. Establish who gets what

  • After consulting with the estate planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, your estate plan should account for the following:
  • All property (personal & real)
  • Assets
  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Anything in your name 

    Once you take note of all your property and assets above, you will then decide who the beneficiaries are of those things. Guardianship of children must be awarded if there are surviving minors. Establishing who gets what in your estate plan ensures that your property and assets are distributed exactly where you want.

  1. Choose exactly how your estate should spend your money

  • Be specific when allocating funds. Decide if you want money spent on funeral ceremonies, donated to charities, inherited directly or a mix of all. Whatever you want in your estate plan, the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm will make sure your wishes are taken care of. The money in shared bank accounts and trusts will remain in control of the joint owners but will be subject to their creditors and yours. 

    Other funds and assets may also distribute through trusts or a will. The questions you want to answer when it comes to disbursing finances are:

  • What finances need addressing?
  • Who receives them?
  • How exactly will they be distributed?
  • When will the beneficiaries receive these assets?
  1. Minimize estate & income taxes

  • Taxes can be avoided or minimized by consulting an estate planning attorney at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. An experienced attorney at Rhodes Law Firm can direct you to the most beneficial methods of distributing property to maximize your financial savings. There are plenty of opportunities to ensure that beneficiaries receive the highest possible percentage of their intended inheritance. 

    If you fail to talk to an estate planning attorney before tragedy strikes, it could result in your hard-earned money and assets being spent on services after your death. It’s your family and inheritors who suffer at the expense of no estate plan in place so protect them and your estate while you still can.

  1. Seek professional guidance

  • Seeking help from the right professionals will save you time and money when it comes to planning your estate. Consulting with an estate planning lawyer at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, or from financial planners and tax experts, will expose you to strategies and estate planning tactics you were unaware of.
  1. Plan for more than just asset distribution

  • Estate planning at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta consists of more than just asset distribution. The estate attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm will discuss power of attorney for managing your finances during incapacitation and in the case of death, durable power of attorney. Rhodes Law Firm will also consult with you on healthcare surrogate documents which appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, guardianship of minor children and living wills for specific wishes that need completion on behalf of an individual. 

    There is so much more to think and plan for when it comes to your estate other than just inheritance. Ensure that your children and finances are in good hands be deciding now how your estate will be handled and distributed upon your passing.

  1. Avoid probate as much as possible

  • Probate is the court process through which a will is proven. Trusts generally avoid probate and thus save your estate money and other benefits. Probate court costs are very expensive, and probate can drag on for years. Avoid the headache and fees of probate court all together by establishing an estate plan with the estate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.
  1. Plan your memorial

  • One hardship that family and friends must overcome while dealing with the loss of a loved one is trying to decide how to plan the memorial service. After your death, your family will be grieving and the planning that goes along with the financial burdens of a memorial service can be difficult for your family to endure. 

    To help prepare your loved ones for the days when you are no longer with them, it is encouraged to plan your services in advance. You will be able to dictate the ideal ceremony for yourself while giving the ones you care for most the comfort of not having to wonder what’s best.Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta is dedicated to ensuring our clients have peace of mind when it comes to planning their estate. At Rhodes Law Firm, we want you to be informed and your family, assets and property to be protected. Contact the estate planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm and allow us to assist you in helping prepare for your future.

Around the Web: Stop Avoiding Estate Planning

m3admin
0 comments
Blog

It’s an uncomfortable topic, it’s difficult to think about, and it’s not exactly how many people want to spend their day off. However, it is absolutely necessary. Estate Planning is essential to preparing for the inevitable and ensuring that your loved ones do not have any unavoidable stress on them during a very difficult time. It is understandable why many choose to avoid this process, and this article lists a few of the more common reasons and also lists some helpful things you can do right now to make things easier should something happen.

The three most common excuses for avoiding estate planning are: too busy, too complicated, and too superstitious. There are a few things you can do at this moment that are simple and easy and will help take the burden off your loved ones in the event of an emergency or unexpected death. First, share passwords to all accounts and services. In addition, let your family know who should speak for you if you cannot communicate yourself and what you would like done in a medical emergency. Thirdly, make a financial aggregation of all assets and money you have and also your debts. The final thing you can do is create a will and power of attorney. We know, it’s hard to think about, but this ensures your assets go to the right people.

If you would like any assistance with planning your estate or creating your will, please give our experienced and knowledgeable team at Rhodes Law Firm a call today.

AROUND THE WEB: Avoid creating family friction with your estate plan

m3admin
0 comments
Blog, News

Losing a parent is often one of the most difficult times a family can face. Many times, it can result in friction between siblings. There are simple ways to help avoid this, however, such as deciding early how property should be sold or maintained. This article elaborates on specific steps you can take now to help keep the peace during a difficult time for your loved ones. Below are some ideas and suggestions to consider when making your estate plan.

 

  • Find a Real Estate Attorney with Experience and Referrals – It’s important to work with someone who understand the needs and wishes of retirees. Find someone with plenty of experience in the field as well as satisfied clients.
  • Produce an Overview of Your Financials – One easy way of helping your beneficiaries simplify the process is to create a simple overview of what you own and where. This minimizes any possibility of skepticism. This overview should include a list of all assets, liabilities, and insurance policies, as well as contact information for all insurance and legal professionals you have. It would be a good idea to include usernames and passwords for any accounts or websites.
  • Communicate with Your Family Now – Once you have the above steps in place and completed, it is vital you communicate with your family to prevent any miscommunication in the future. Discuss your estate intentions and legacy items that are important to you. Explain who your executor will be as well as let them know where the important documents are kept.

 

If you are ready to meet with an experienced and reputable estate attorney to begin your estate planning process, call Rhodes Law Firm today!

How to Change a Will or Trust and Why You Should

Mass Media
0 comments
Blog

how to change a will

Last Will and Testament Document Ready to Sign. Last Will Document and Fountain Pen Closeup Photo.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, the number of Americans making wills is dropping. Less than a third of Americans currently have a valid will, according to statistics.

Even those that have a will may not have their affairs set in order. There are certain circumstances under which it is necessary to change your will, or at least advisable to do so.

If it’s been a while since you made a will or trust, you should inform yourself about when it might be a good idea to make changes to it.

Read on to find out how to change a will or trust.

Wills & Trusts: What’s the Difference?

Wills and trusts are both estate planning tools. You can use either a will or a trust to distribute your assets, or you can use both.

The main difference between the two is that a will does not take effect until you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you make it.

When Might I Have To Change My Will or Trust?

Making a will is an important and commendable step in one’s life. However, it is unfortunately only half the battle. Most people will have to alter wills or trusts several times in their lives.

The following are some circumstances in which you should consider changing your will.

Changes in Your Family Situation

If you’re arranging the distribution of your assets, chances are you’re leaving the majority of your estate, if not all of it, to members of your immediate family. Therefore, it makes sense to change your will or trust when the structure of your family changes.

This might come about in the case of a new birth or an untimely death. However, most often, it relates to the spousal relationship.

In many states, a marriage or divorce will immediately render a previous will void. Even in those states where it doesn’t, you should make a new will anyway.

It is especially important to make a new will if you remarry after getting divorced.

Death of Beneficiaries

If someone you name in your will or trust dies before you, it is usually a good idea to change the document.

It should be noted that the death of a beneficiary will not necessarily make a will invalid. The rules vary from state to state, but in many cases the gift will simply pass to the heirs of the deceased person.

A person’s heir or heirs will usually be their wife, their children, their parents, or their siblings.

Changes in Your Assets

Imagine you won the state lottery tomorrow. Whatever your will says would probably be largely irrelevant, as it wouldn’t account for the fresh pile of cash now sitting in your bank account.

This is obviously an extreme example. However, assets almost always change over the years.

Whether you purchase new property, start making more money at work, lose money in an investment, or just spend a percentage of your savings, the amount of assets you have is probably changing all the time.

Therefore, you should check your will or trust every few months to ensure that what you’re bequeathing is consistent with what you actually have.

Also, if you gain or lose a large quantity of assets, you should change your will or trust immediately.

Change in Location

If you make a will in one state and subsequently move to another, your will may not be valid in the latter state.

The rules on this vary from state to state. If you’re unsure about whether your will is valid, it’s always best to consult an attorney.

Changes to the Law

Various laws that are relevant to wills and trusts change quite frequently. These might rules in relation to tax, power of attorney, or long term care benefits. Advanced health directives are also relevant.

These laws are numerous and complex. If you’re not sure whether a legal change affects your estate plan, it’s always best to ask your lawyer.

How To Change a Will or Trust

There are a number of ways in which you can change an existing will or trust. The best method for you will depend on the extent of the changes you wish to make.

A New Will or Trust

If you want to make sweeping changes to your will or trust, or you haven’t changed it in a long time, you may be better off to just start from scratch.

This will invalidate any previous wills or trusts you may have made.

A Codicil

A codicil is similar to an addendum. Whereas an addendum merely adds to a will or trust, however, a codicil changes a pre-existing element of one.

These are used where there is only one change to be made, or a few minor changes. Codicils are quicker and easier to implement than brand new documents.

Once drawn up, a codicil is attached to your existing will or trust as a secondary document. Codicils must be witnessed and executed in the same fashion as the original will or trust.

A Personal Property Memorandum

This is similar to a codicil. It also takes the form of an additional document that is attached to your original will or trust and makes binding changes to it.

However, this method is only available to you if you included a personal property memorandum when you first wrote your will or trust. In this case, you can remove the existing memorandum and replace it with one that reflects your updated intentions.

A personal property memorandum is used by those who wish to leave specific pieces of property to specific beneficiaries, rather than dividing their estate up equally.

For instance, if you wish to leave your car to one of your children and your art collection to another, you would specify this in your personal property memorandum.

What Happens If I Die Without Making a Will?

Where someone does not have a will when they die, they are said to have died intestate. The way in which your assets are distributed will depend on your family situation and the laws in your state.

Generally, your estate will be divided up among your heirs, with priority given to your spouse and children, followed by your parents and siblings.

If no suitable heir can be found, the ultimate beneficiary is usually the state.

Making Sure Your Family Are Looked After

Nobody likes to think about life after their own passing. However, this is no excuse for not having arrangements made in relation to your affairs, especially if you have a family that will need to be looked after when you’re gone.

For those that already have one, knowing how to change a will or trust is hugely important. You need to be able to make adjustments if some unexpected occurrence should change your state of affairs.

If you’d like to make a will, or have us review or make a change to an existing one, contact us today.

Around the Web: Personal Information May Still be a Risk After Data Breach

m3admin
0 comments
Blog, News

If you think you are safe from data breaches and identity theft because you froze your Equifax credit account, you may be sorely mistaken. Due to a security flaw, identity thieves may be able to easily hijack your phone and utility accounts. According to this article, the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange, an association that houses consumer payment data for utility bills, is a separate organization and, thus, not affected by your credit freeze with the credit bureaus.

The director of the Identity Fraud Institute at Hodges University, Carrie Kerskie, reported that they have had many people come to them because crooks have opened utility accounts in their names. She suggests that anyone whose personal information was exposed in a data breach request a copy of their NCTUE in addition to the three big credit reporting agencies. Then you can place a freeze on all accounts. 

While it’s always possible that your information will still be stolen in the future, it’s important to take extra steps and precautions to try to protect your data and personal information as best as possible. If you need the assistance of an attorney, contact Rhodes Law Firm today. While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited our in-office interactions, we are happy to provide legal assistance by email or phone. 

Planning Charitably: 5 Strategies That Will Save You Money on Taxes

Mass Media
0 comments
Blog

charitably

Donation Jar with Copy Space. Fundraiser, Charity and Relief Work.

It is recommended that small businesses should donate 6% of their profits and sales to charitable causes.

Donating profits can help you and your employees feel like you are making a difference and can even draw in more business.

If you want to put your money to good use, you have a couple of options to consider.

Continue reading to discover how giving charitably can help you save on taxes and improve your company!

1. Remainder Trusts

Giving charitably through remainder trusts are a good idea if you have a lot of highly appreciated assets.

Remainder trusts allow you to liquidate your assets and there is no tax consequence when doing so. After you donate to this trust, you will be able to get a tax deduction that applies to your current income.

One of the best things about this type of charity is that you can continue to get the benefits of your assets for the rest of your life. After you die, the rest of your assets that you have remaining will go to whichever charity you choose.

Becoming a philanthropist can open your eyes to all of the types of charities, you can select one with special meaning. In many office settings, the entire team will vote on the charity of their choice.

The more involved that you and your employees are with the charity, the more meaningful and impactful you will be. Take the time to discover the best place for your money to go towards.

Our guide can help you find reputable charities that can help a lot of people!

2. Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds (DAF) are a great way to give back to a charity and help you get tax breaks.

Over time you can contribute assets, cash, and other securities to this fund. You can get tax breaks as soon as you begin adding them. Once you have made your investments, they will increase and be tax-free.

Donating stock to charity is one way you can handle a donor-advised fund. You can also invest checks and mutual fund shares. If your business has hedge fund interests or private equity, you can even use these for your investment.

Less common assets that you can put towards this charitable fund include retirement savings and Bitcoin.

3. Lead Trusts

If you are looking for a way to donate more than you already have, charitable lead trusts are recommended.

In a lead trust, you can donate a portion of your profits for an extended time. You can put these donations towards one or more philanthropies. Whatever money is remaining typically goes to your beneficiary or family.

Many people consider lead trusts to be the inverse of remainder trusts, that are mentioned above. They are irrevocable and meant to reduce tax liability, once inheritance occurs.

It is recommended to put your money towards this trust if you have a lot of taxable income. You can use this charity to lower your taxes and help your family. You can also get savings through estate and gift taxes as well when you have charitable lead trusts.

4. Local Community

Does your business play a large role in the local community?

By donating to local community foundations you can help the people in your area, feel good about it, and save on taxes. Typically businesses will donate to nonprofits of any size.

Most community foundations revolve around the arts, education, and health services. Disaster relief and environmental corporations in your area can also accept donations. There are more than 750 community foundations in the United States. They can be found in rural and urban areas.

The purpose of community foundations is to help improve the lives of the people in a certain area. This area is determined by geography and can help individuals and businesses. The money will go towards clubs and other charities that put arts, sports, and culture back into the community.

5. Private Family Foundations

Most private family foundations are set up by families with assets.

If you wanted to start a private foundation to donate to, you must come up with a name and fill out some paperwork. You can also donate money to other private foundations. When you donate to them, you will be able to use it as a tax write off and will save you money.

Many people choose to donate to private family foundations because they have a connection with it. If you want to make an impact on a family and their cause you should consider this type of donation.

It will bring you closer to your customers and can make the biggest impact.

Not only will you get tax deductions immediately, but you can also avoid capital gains tax and have minimal estate tax liability.

Giving Charitably Can Help You

Did you know that you can improve your business and cut your taxes by giving charitably to various foundations and trusts?

If you have the extra money in your business and want to put it to good use, you have several options. Charitable remainder trusts and lead trusts can ensure that your family and business are safe even after you pass.

By giving to the local community and family-run foundations, you can help the people in your area that support your business. Not only does giving charitably help lessen your taxes, but it can also help get you more business.

Be sure to contact our team today for assistance with Charitable planning, business law, and more!

Around the Web: How the SECURE Act Affects Your Estate Plan

m3admin
0 comments
Blog, News

It is important to review your estate plans regularly to adjust for any changes that occur, whether they are legal or personal. This year, that is especially true. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Act, or SECURE Act, has made substantial alterations to how certain retirement benefits and IRAs should be treated after death. This means that you should take the time to review and update your estate plan. This article on Forbes.com highlights some key points regarding these changes and why you should take the time to consider making changes to your plan.

The SECURE Act changes could possibly result in revision of beneficiary designation forms, revision of wills and trusts, possible modifications of existing conduit trusts, and complete restructuring of the planning for the IRA account. One major change that the SECURE Act brings with it is the death of the “Stretch IRA.” With this death, the ramifications will shake things up for many. The stretch technique permitted heirs to defer IRA over a long period of time, which essentially would permit the IRA balance to compound income tax free. Now, however, most heirs of an IRA dating after 2019 will be required to completely withdraw all assets within 10 years of the date of death. 

There are a few exceptions to the 10-year rule. For heirs who qualify as “eligible designated beneficiaries” do not need to adhere to the 10-year payout. Those who are considered eligible designated beneficiaries are surviving spouses, chronically ill, or disabled heirs. 

The SECURE Act significantly affects many estate and retirement plans, so it is critical to review your plans today. The team of legal experts at Rhodes Law Firm is ready to help ensure that your plan is structurally sound and your wishes will be upheld. Don’t wait until it’s too late – come see us today to review or create your estate and retirement plans!

Common Second Marriage Inheritance Issues You May Not Know About

Mass Media
0 comments
Blog

second marriage inheritance issues

Family consulting notary public at office

In the United States, 60% of couples in a second or subsequent marriage have at least one child from a prior relationship. In 2008 one-third of people divorcing were actually re-divorcing (divorcing again).

In blended families, it is important to make sure the children from your first marriage are not unintentionally disinherited. To make sure your intentions are met, second marriage inheritance issues should be addressed before or immediately after your marriage.

Estate Plans Must be Updated

Often in second marriages you and your spouse are older and may already have a will and trust. Those items need to be updated each time you remarry.

Blended families are common. There are special considerations that need to be considered in estate planning. You and your spouse may have children from prior relationships, expenses or income from child support or alimony, joint property with a former spouse, and retirement investments.

Updating your estate plan will prevent inheritance problems. Whether to combine estates from prior relationships or keep them separate will be one of the decisions you need to make. It is important to talk to an estate attorney before you combine any assets.

Common Second Marriage Inheritance Issues

In second marriages inheritance issues become more complicated. There is a high failure rate for second and third marriages. 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

When you consider 3 out of every 4 divorced people will remarry, inheritance issues and proper estate planning are critical. If you die before your spouse, your spouse could remarry and leave everything to their own children. This would eliminate your first marriage children from receiving any inheritance. Special consideration must be given to each individual factor in inheritance planning.

Comingling Assets

The first decision is whether to combine estates or keep them separate. Assets made joint provides your new spouse with entitlement to that asset. Assets kept separate may be designated for children of your first marriage.

Income and property obtained during a marriage are considered community property. Income and property obtained prior to the marriage and never comingled remain your sole property.

If your assets have been comingled your spouse will inherit 100% interest in the house, bank accounts, stock accounts, etc. In most cases, the second spouse changes everything and leaves assets to their own children, nothing to the spouse’s children.

Long-Term Care Considerations

In many states spouses have a legal obligation to support each other. If one spouse needs long-term nursing home care the assets of the other may be used to pay bills. This could include personal income and draws from an IRA. In other states, the income and IRA of the spouse may not be affected.

You may want to seek legal advice before deciding to tie-the-knot. It may be financially better to become partners rather than getting married.

Update Beneficiaries

You must update beneficiaries on investments and life insurance. The beneficiary designations on these documents supersede anything you put in your will. If your life insurance still lists your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and your will lists your new spouse, the beneficiary designation holds and your ex-spouse will receive the payment.

At the same time, if all of your life insurance and investments have your second spouse listed as a beneficiary, they will inherit everything and your children from your first marriage receive nothing.

401(k), IRA and Financial Investments

The older you are when you remarry the more likely it is you and/or your new spouse will bring assets into the marriage. This may include retirement savings, life insurance, brokerage accounts, and real estate.

401(k) plan rules require the current spouse to be the beneficiary unless he or she legally agrees not to be designated. On all other investments, you may designate who you want to inherit the money. This is an excellent way of ensuring your children receive a financial inheritance from you.

Bank accounts or brokerage accounts held jointly with a child will go to that child upon your death. An IRA goes to the person named as a beneficiary on the account.

Family Heirlooms and Memorabilia

You may be in possession of family heirlooms and memorabilia that are important to your children but are not of any significance to your current spouse. Specifying how those items are distributed in your will or trust will guarantee they are distributed according to your wishes.

Houses Owned Prior to Marriage

If you owned a home prior to your second marriage and your spouse is going to move in, consider whether or not you want that home to eventually go to your children. If you add your spouse to the title, they will inherit the home upon your death and your children get nothing. The title of the home supersedes anything you put in your will.

One consideration is to keep the home in your name only but set up a trust that allows your spouse to reside in the home until their death. When your spouse dies the home will pass to your children.

Medical Power of Attorney

Should something happen to you, who do you want to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf, your children or your spouse? Make sure both your spouse and adult children know your intentions and the appropriate documents have been completed.

The Purpose of Estate Planning

Estate planning legally ensures your assets end up where you wanted them to. If you fail to plan, the children from your first marriage could be unintentionally disinherited.

If you die intestate (without a will) the courts will decide where your assets go. If there is no will or trust and you are married, all your assets will pass to your spouse.

Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

You may want to meet with an attorney prior to your second marriage to discuss having a prenuptial agreement prepared. More than 40% of weddings have a bride or groom that was previously married. This will provide you and your spouse with full financial disclosure of the assets and debts of the other.

The agreement lays out in a legal contract what happens to your assets in the event of divorce or the death of the other person. You may want to make sure your adult children have a copy of this agreement, as their inheritance may depend on it.

Make Sure Your Inheritance Goes Where You Want

The majority of children born to married couples are born during the first marriage. Many couples in a second marriage do not have common children, so there is no desire to preserve the family.

Make sure you speak with a legal professional about second marriage inheritance issues. Take this important step now.