Multiple Marriages & Inheritance

People in certain marital situations are at a greater need of a good estate plan.

Whereas many people believe that when they die, everything automatically goes to the family members they live with, that is usually not the case after a divorce and/or remarriage. The reality is that a marital dissolution causes consequences to your estate plan.

If you’ve had an attorney counsel you through a divorce, you may have been told that dissolution will remove your spouse from receiving an inheritance or being your executor, even if the will names that person, under 755 ILCS 5/4-5. That situation is not too complicated.

However, when multiple marriage families create new household arrangements, a good estate plan is needed to ensure the right protection. The norm in Illinois (755 ILCS 5/2-1) is that most people who die without a will leave half to their spouse and half to their kids whether born or adopted. But if you are married with kids from a previous marriage, and/or married to someone with kids from a previous marriage, then 755 ILCS 5/2-1 continues to leave 50% to your spouse, and 50% to only YOUR kids born or adopted. Not to your step-son or step-daughter who live with you, or to their children who might call you Grandpa/Grandma.

This could work out well in some situations; it can also go horribly wrong, leaving one or more sets of family members out of an inheritance simply because there was never a formal adoption, or never a clear understanding of how inheritance works in a multiple marriage situation. It can also lead to problems in guardianship, where a loving step-mother may no longer have any legal right to visit or care for the step-son she has housed with her husband for the last 8 years.

Any post-dissolution situation should include a look at your estate plan with an attorney, especially if you are remarrying and there are children in the picture.


DISCLAIMER: Please do not prepare your own court filings after reading this blog, without consulting an attorney first about your specific situation. I make no representations or guarantees here as to the applicability of any claim in your specific situation. This blog is ADVERTISING MATERIAL only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, especially if you are not an Illinois resident. Please contact me if you have a legal question or concern, as no attorney-client agreement will exist between myself and any readers of this blog unless it is signed in writing.


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