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Making Sense Out of Dollars

For women only

Part 5 of 7

Joel Lerner, Columnist
Posted 8/20/21

Should Women Have Their Own Wills?

Every woman should have her own will and keep it up to date. It could even be argued that a wife’s will is more essential than her husband’s since, …

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Making Sense Out of Dollars

For women only

Part 5 of 7

Posted

Should Women Have Their Own Wills?

Every woman should have her own will and keep it up to date. It could even be argued that a wife’s will is more essential than her husband’s since, in most cases, she will outlive him and thus be responsible for not one but two estates - his and hers. This is so even when a wife has few assets of her own.

Consider this scenario: a husband dies, leaving all his property to his wife. Shortly afterward, she dies intestate, that is, without a will. All the family’s assets would be disposed of according to the laws of intestacy applicable in her state. The result may or may not be in accordance with her wishes.

What Are the Financial Ramifications of Remarriage?

Second marriages usually bring great happiness. Often, they also bring financial complications, especially for women. As always, it pays to be prepared. Consider these possibilities to protect yourself financially:

1. A prenuptial agreement can help you by allowing you to keep any assets out of the hands of your new spouse if something should happen to the new marriage (death, divorce, etc.). In addition to being a contract, a prenuptial agreement is a plan to achieve protection of assets. Those assets acquired prior to the marriage are known as “non-marital property” and assets acquired during the marriage are known as “marital property.”

2. The nature of a prenuptial agreement and its inherent legal requirements and characteristics provides each party the freedom to protect his or her non-marital property from each other. Provisions affecting marital property and other issues arising from the marriage are subject only to notions of fairness and equitable constraints. It cannot be overemphasized that any financial plan should take advantage of the protection available from prenuptial agreements. Newly married couples may feel that this written agreement shows a lack of trust, but in truth, it actually helps keep family harmony. I have seen adult children’s concern (the new husband may get all their mother’s money) put aside by the use of the prenuptial agreement. To play it safe, hire a different lawyer than your new partner uses so that each is represented in drafting this agreement. We will be discussing prenuptial agreements in length in three weeks.

3. Consider the consequences of remarrying and its effect on social security benefits. If you are a widow who is not a senior citizen, and are collecting social security benefits based upon your late husband’s social security account, remarriage will stop your benefits. However, if you wait until that golden age, you will then be able to draw on your new mate’s social security account or your late spouse’s account, whichever is greater.

4. You are entitled to one-time capital-gains exclusion (up to $250,000 single, $500,000 for a couple) on the sale of your main home providing you have lived in that home for at least two out of the last five years. Married couples can take advantage only once even if each owns a home. Therefore, before remarrying, you should consider selling your home and your intended’s home so that you will get two exclusions instead of one.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

“Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.”

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