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Estate Planning In Your Second Marriage

How often do you hear stories of families fighting over the estate of the deceased father or mother? Every other celebrity’s passing was followed by a nasty family feud over their assets. Do you think that is because they did not have their estate planned? Very possibly, but most likely, all of this mess was due to the estate planning that was done without consideration of their second and, for some, third and more marriages.

In fact, regular estate planning that people do in their first marriage will not work in the second marriage. That is mostly because the goals that spouses in the first marriage are pursuing while planning their estate are often very different from the goals in the second marriage. When people get re-married, they bring more assets with them that they have earned in the previous marriage. Most “new” families have “his” children and “her” children and for some couples “our” children arrive in the picture as well.

In the first marriage, the main purpose of the estate planning was to guarantee that the surviving spouse can maintain the lifestyle he or she is accustomed to and that the children are taken care of. In the second marriage, it is more likely that each person will worry about the well-being of their own children as well as the mutual kids and the new spouse. If you are entering into a second marriage, here is some helpful estate planning advice:

First, consider drafting a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. Make sure to review it with an experience estate planning attorney.

In the second marriage, you need to be extremely cautious about who to appoint as the beneficiary in your estate planning documents and how own your assets, including real estate. Yes, there might be a verbal agreement between you and your spouse, but no one will be able to control that this agreement is honored once you are gone.  For example, if you and your new spouse had children in previous marriages, one of the options you have is to leave certain assets in the trust directly to your children and make sure to appoint a guardian for them if the kids are minor.

Another very common case is when one spouse is much younger than another. If the age difference is significant – your children from the previous marriage(s) may never get to their inheritance. Think of leaving part of your assets to them by naming them as beneficiaries of your Life Insurance. This way, your children will get their portion of your estate right at your death, and your new spouse will continue to own her or his share until death or re-marriage.

These are just a few options of how the estate planning in a second marriage can be arranged. Each family is special, and each situation is unique. Be sure to consult with a professional estate planning attorney when revising your estate planning or planning from scratch in your second marriage.

Special thanks to Inna Fershteyn, Esq., the Principal and Founder of (The Law Office of Inna Fershteyn and Associates, P.C.) for providing this helpful article.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Please do not use this article for legal advice. Each case has special circumstances and must be reviewed by a specialist.