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Second Marriage and Estate Planning

Dec. 22, 2021

Happy senior couple during the meeting with agent or financial consultantLife does not stop after losing your spouse due to death or divorce. Many people get married for a second time because they want to make a lifelong commitment to their partner. While a second marriage may feel like a fresh start, it is still vital to consider creating an estate plan to protect your finances, legacy, and loved ones.

If you are thinking about setting up an estate plan before or after remarriage, consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to advise you on your options. At Luvara Law Group LLC, our estate planning attorneys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, assist individuals with putting together a solid estate plan to safeguard their assets and legacy. We also provide estate planning services to clients in Waynesburg, Greensburg, New Castle, Uniontown, and Washington.

Rights of a Surviving Spouse

The rights of a surviving spouse depend on state law and whether or not the decedent had a last will and testament. In Pennsylvania, the surviving spouse cannot be completely disinherited if the decedent leaves behind a will.

Under Pennsylvania law, a surviving spouse can exercise their right to receive an elective share (one-third) of the deceased spouse’s estate property. Thus, even if a spouse excludes their spouse from the will, the surviving spouse is still entitled to one-third of the decedent’s estate.

If a spouse dies without a will, intestacy laws will apply to determine the distribution of the decedent’s property. Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws include the following provisions:

  • The surviving spouse inherits everything if the decedent dies with no living children and parents.

  • The surviving spouse inherits the first $30,000 if the decedent leaves behind children but no living parents. The remaining assets in the estate are divided between the children and the surviving spouse. Half goes to the surviving spouse, and the other half goes to the kids.

  • The surviving spouse inherits the first $30,000 if their spouse did not leave behind children but has living parents. The remaining assets in the estate are divided between the parents and the surviving spouse.

However, if partners are divorced or not legally married at the time of the death, the surviving partner has no rights to inherit the decedent’s property.

Considerations When Creating an Estate Plan in a Second Marriage

Creating an estate plan when getting married for a second time requires several considerations:

  • Prenuptial agreement. Not all marriages last forever. For that reason, you might want to consider developing a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets in the event of divorce.

  • Protect the inheritance of your children. If you have children from the first marriage and let your new spouse inherit all of your assets, there is no guarantee that your spouse will share your property with your children after your passing. Consider setting up a trust to protect the inheritance of your children.

  • Change beneficiaries. It is critical to update your beneficiary designations when remarrying. If your spouse from the first marriage is still the beneficiary on your financial accounts, you need to update the designations to remove your previous spouse.

  • Long-term care. The chance that we might require long-term care increases as we get older. For this reason, you need to make sure that your estate plan includes your wishes regarding healthcare and plans for long-term care.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

It is not uncommon for people to make mistakes when establishing an estate plan upon remarriage. Some of the most common mistakes you should avoid when creating an estate plan for your second or subsequent marriage include:

  • Not changing beneficiary designations. Check the beneficiary designations on all of your financial accounts and life insurance. Make sure that the named beneficiaries are consistent with your current wishes.

  • Thinking that your second marriage will not fail. Even if everything about your second marriage seems ideal, there is no guarantee that it will not end in divorce years or decades from now. Keep this in mind when creating an estate plan.

  • Not hiring an attorney. If you are creating an estate plan for your second marriage, consider speaking with an experienced attorney to assist you with developing a legally binding plan that reflects your goals and wishes.

Get the Experienced Guidance You Need

If you are thinking about estate planning for your second marriage, consider contacting an experienced attorney to protect your loved ones and your legacy. At Luvara Law Group LLC, we use our 75 years of combined legal experience to assist clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with their estate planning needs, whether they need to create or update their plan for the first, second, or subsequent marriage. Schedule an evaluation with our attorneys to discuss your specific case.