A second marriage can have a profound affect on the financial state of a marrying couple. Each spouse should take into account how the marriage will affect their assets and how their assets will be distributed upon their deaths. 

How Can I Validate My Second Marriage?

People entering a second marriage must ensure that their first marriage was successfully divorced or annulled. Each person is only allowed one marriage at a time (religious exemptions aside). Failure to ensure that the first marriage was legally ended will result in the second marriage being voided by a court.

If you are getting married a second time, it might be wise to check court records to see if your first marriage was successfully divorced. Your spouse-to-be should conduct a similar check to make sure that bigamy is not an obstacle to the second marriage.

What Rights Do I Have?

A spouse in a marriage attains certain legal rights over the other’s assets, both during their time of marriage and at the time of the first spouse’s death. These rights include: 

  • The right to financial support during the asset administration period
  • The right to inherit a portion of the deceased spouse’s assets if there is no will
  • The right to administer the deceased’s estate if there is no will

How Should I Distribute My Assets?

There a few different ways by which spouses can ensure that their assets are distributed in the manner of their choosing. These can include: 

Prenuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements can be used to help protect funds that were originally allotted for children’s education or for retirement prior to marriage. Prenuptial agreements usually provide that upon the other spouse’s death or divorce, neither spouse will have a claim against the other spouse’s assets. 

Joint Ownership
In joint ownership, a couple can jointly own assets and name each other as his or her benefactor.  Upon the first spouse’s death, all of the deceased’s assets may pass to the surviving spouse by survivorship rights. At the time of the surviving spouse’s death, those assets will then be passed according to the surviving spouse’s will or living trust.

Wills and Trusts
Reviewing and revising existing wills and trusts or creating new ones can also ensure that assets are distributed according to your wishes. Marriage typically overrides any prior will made by a spouse unless the marriage was anticipated at the time of its making. If a spouse does not redo his or her will, then it will be as if the spouse dies without a will, and the surviving spouse will inherit the deceases spouse’s probate estate as an heir.

Do I Need to Consult an Attorney about Remarrying?

Understanding your rights and responsibilities when you remarry can be difficult. An experienced family lawyer can help you determine how your property is legally categorized. An attorney can also help you defend your property rights and represent you in court.