Should you be happy or suspicious of dad’s new girlfriend Goldie? If Goldie is in similar circumstances-divorced or widowed, with her own assets-you might be thrilled. But if she’s much younger and your family and friends have never heard of her before, it could be hard to tell if you’re dealing with a paramour or a predator.
When your “single” parent starts dating again, there may be concerns about the new love in their life. One common worry was outlined in a recent Consumer Reports article – “Is Dad (or Mom) dating a gold digger?” As awkward as it can be to question the new relationship, it may be wise to suggest that your single parent see an estate planning or elder law attorney.
This meeting with your parent and an estate planning or elder law attorney can help dad or mom organize his or her financial documents and assets. In turn, this can go a long way to easing everyone’s mind, including a new potential spouse. The attorney likely will want to know whether your parent has a power of attorney in place, and will ask questions to ensure that the assets are identified before any estate plan is implemented.
If your single parent decides he wants to remarry, the attorney may recommend a prenuptial agreement. This legal document can designate who will get what if the marriage fails or if either spouse dies. Also, in most states, a new spouse can receive an “elective share” of his or her spouse’s estate, even if the estate plan leaves everything to someone other than the surviving spouse.
A prenuptial agreement may trump these elective share laws, but it is not automatic. For starters, your parent and the intended new spouse must each have their own legal representation to create and review the agreement. If the parties use only one attorney, either party may cry foul successfully later on.
Alternatively, your parent can elect to leave something to you and any other children from a previous marriage by setting up an irrevocable trust. Your parent can even make provision for the new spouse, by providing income, principal or both. There are many other options to explore, as well.
You can see that there’s a lot to cover! Have your single parent speak to an attorney sooner rather than later.