If you are approaching a second marriage, you probably have a lot on your mind. One major consideration, especially if you have children from a previous marriage, involves estate planning. Second marriages can complicate the estate planning process and may even impact your children’s inheritances if you do not take the correct actions. Here are a few factors to consider when it comes to estate planning and second marriages.
Assets & properties may not pass down to your heirs
Very few people think about their demise when getting married, but it is worth entertaining these issues before actually tying the knot. For example, if you own a property that you plan on leaving to your kids after you die, the matter could be complicated by a new marriage. Your new spouse will have a say in what happens to the property after you are gone without the right alterations to your estate plan. If he or she intends on staying or chooses to sell the home, children from a previous marriage will be left without many options.
The same issues can arise with jointly-owned assets. Consider this: you and your new spouse own assets jointly, which you plan on leaving all or a portion of to your kids after your death, and your new spouse decides to retain those assets after you are gone. Because assets are owned jointly (which is the case when you place individually owned assets into a joint account), your new spouse has the ultimate say in how they are used and dispersed.
Trusts can address many of these issues
Revisiting your estate plan is recommended after any significant life changes, whether that is marriage, divorce, or the birth of a new child. The good news is there is a relatively simple fix for common estate planning issues that arise during second marriages. Establishing a trust for your heirs ensures that any children from previous relationships can receive their inheritances as you intend. Placing certain assets or property into a trust, and designating specific rules for how those assets are to be distributed upon your passing, prevents questions or confusion after you are gone.