How Your Estate Plan Will Be Affected by a Second–or Third, or Fourth–Marriage

Goals change in subsequent marriages. In the first marriage, the couple’s goals are often the same when it comes to estate planning. They usually want to leave their assets to the surviving spouse and their children. However, in a subsequent marriage, these goals may change because one or both spouses may need to account for children from a prior marriage.

For example, a spouse may have specific assets that he or she brought into the marriage that the spouse would like to go to a child from a prior marriage. These assets could include funds, but they are often of sentimental value as well. In addition, spouses often want to ensure that their current spouse will also have enough to live off of.

Estate planning with all of these goals in mind can become tricky quickly, and many of the estate planning tools that you used in your first marriage may not accomplish your goals in a second marriage.

Talk It Out: Communication Can Avoid Problems

You should take some time to speak to your new spouse about estate planning well in advance. In fact, talking through these issues before the marriage may be a good idea so that you can develop a prenuptial agreement that may touch on estate planning issues.

Talk about your specific wishes for property that you brought into the marriage as well as how you plan to distribute assets that are legally owned by both spouses. Having this conversation now can also help you deal with potential financial disputes down the road.

Using New Estate Planning Tools

Couples often use joint tenancy for their marital home. Under this arrangement, the home will automatically pass to the surviving spouse after the first spouse passes. It does not go through the probate process and is not distributed through the will. Once one spouse alone owns the home, then he or she can do whatever they want with it. That could mean, for example, that the spouse may leave the home to their children from their prior marriage, which could completely cut out your kids from your prior marriage from receiving any portion of the home.

The same problem often arises in the context of life insurance or pensions. Once the other spouse receives the proceeds after your death, he or she can do whatever they would like with it, including not giving it to your children. Even if your spouse promises not to do this after you are gone, there is nothing stopping them.

To avoid this type of problem, you may want to create a trust for your children alone. This new estate planning tool will ensure that your kids are never left out of receiving their portion of the property.

Second marriage planning requires creativity and foresight. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you craft the right solution for your specific situation. Call Legacy Planning Law Group today for more information.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.