Get Your Estate Plan Arranged Before You Get Remarried

I will often have a client call and tell me that he/she planning to get remarried and will see me afterwards to revise his/her estate plan. My advice to them…see me before you get remarried because your planning options might be very limited once you say “I do”.

The problem is that Michigan law provides a spouse with certain rights of inheritance from a deceased spouse’s estate. In the case where you want your entire estate to go to your children, you do not want your spouse to have any rights to inherit from you. If he/she does inherit anything from you, he/she does not have any obligation to give it to your children.

The good news is that these rights can be waived before you get married. While they can, also, be waived after marriage, it is too late if your new spouse is unwilling to waive them once you are married. Both of you have to agree to waive them. Obviously, if your spouse to be is unwilling to waive them before you get married, then you could decide not to get married.

Men who are about to get married have another matter to consider. When he gets married his spouse acquires a dower right in his Michigan real estate. This means that he cannot transfer his real estate without his spouse’s consent. If he transfers the real estate before he gets married, then his spouse does not have any dower rights to it.