The number of “gray divorces” has climbed in recent years. It makes sense that there would be a rise in the number of Colorado seniors getting remarried. While updating an estate plan might not be at the top of a newly remarried couple’s mind, there are several good reasons to have an estate plan updated following a remarriage.

If an estate plan is not updated to reflect an important life change, such as remarriage, the state will often intervene and decide who should get which assets. In that scenario, the surviving spouse and any children from a previous marriage may face disinheritance and other unintended consequences. For example, the home shared by the couple could go to the deceased spouse’s children, which would effectively disinherit the surviving spouse.

On the flip side of that coin, a spouse’s children from another marriage may not receive their fair share of any inheritance from the surviving spouse. Assets can quickly be depleted in the event that a surviving spouse develops a serious medical condition and requires medical treatment and long-term care, effectively leaving children with no inheritance. Another possibility is that the first spouse might receive the decedent’s 401(k) and life insurance accounts because the beneficiary name had not been updated following a divorce and subsequent remarriage.

All of the unintended consequences mentioned here can be avoided with an updated estate plan. The financial needs of both the new spouse and children from a previous marriage can be addressed in a number of creative ways. For instance, separate or revocable trusts can be created to provide resources for children and a new spouse. A surviving spouse could be given a living inheritance that provides the right to remain in the marital home for the rest of his or her life. An attorney with experience in estate law may discuss the various options and possibilities to protect the interests of both a new spouse and children from a first marriage.