Estate Planning

Second Marriages and Estate Planning in Washington State

By December 7, 2020 April 22nd, 2021 No Comments

If you are about to enter a second or third marriage, there are several steps you’ll need to take in order to ensure that your new future remains as bright as possible. As you lay the foundation for your new life together, don’t forget to revisit your estate plan and update the documents to reflect the changes in your life. Below is a brief overview of the estate planning and inheritance laws in Washington state, as well as some key components of your estate plan that are worth updating as you embark on this next journey.

The Basics of Inheritance Laws in Washington State

When you create a will in Washington state, you name the beneficiaries to whom you would like to leave your property upon your death. However, if you pass away without a will in place (also called “intestate”), the court will step in to distribute your assets according to the state’s intestate succession laws. According to these laws, your spouse will inherit the entirety of your estate if you leave behind no children, parents, or siblings. If you have children, your spouse will inherit all of your community property and half of your separate property, and your children will inherit half of your separate property.

How a Divorce Affects Your Estate Plan

If you have an existing estate plan and you go through a divorce, Washington state law states that “all provisions in the will in favor or granting any interest or power to the testator’s former spouse or former domestic partner are revoked, unless the will expressly provides otherwise.” As you think about your vision for the future, even after you are gone, you’ll need to consider whether you’d like to leave anything to your ex-spouse. Updating your will to expressly articulate your wishes as to how you’d like your property to be allocated and to whom is a step worth taking. If you do not update your will to reflect these changes, you risk putting the future of your estate—and the fate of your loved ones—in the hands of Washington’s intestate succession laws.

Updating Powers of Attorney Documents in Spokane Valley

In addition to updating your will, you should also consider updating your powers of attorney documents. Once a divorce action is filed, your existing powers of attorney documents will automatically invalidate and remove your ex-spouse from their role as a decision-maker. You will need to change these documents and list your new spouse as your trusted agent who will be able to fulfill this role when necessary. As you move forward into this next chapter of your life, it’s a good idea to meet with your estate planning attorney to discuss these changes so that you can feel confident that your future and your legacy will be protected, no matter what happens.

Call the dedicated legal team at Legacy Law Group today at (509) 315-8087 to discuss your estate planning goals with a trusted Spokane Valley estate planning attorney.