People in second marriages often are placed in the difficult position of balancing the wellbeing of their spouse with the needs of their children. Deciding what estate planning strategies to utilize to care for both spouses from second (or additional) marriages and children can be challenging. In the hopes of guiding you through this situation, this article reviews some important issues to consider about estate planning during a second marriage.
# 1 – Comingling Assets
By the point that many people enter second or subsequent marriages, they’ve acquired some amounts of assets. Consequently, spouses must decide whether to combine these assets or keep them separate. While people who want to make sure a new spouse receives assets might decide to commingle assets, people who want to designate assets for children from a previous marriage or relationship might decide to keep assets separate.
# 2 – Update Beneficiary Designations
After entering a second marriage, you should make sure that beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies are adequately updated. You should similarly make sure to update estate planning documents after other major life events. Remember, if you fail to adequately update these documents, a former spouse could end up receiving assets. Remember, however, that if you decide to update all of your retirement accounts so assets transfer to your new spouse, your children might end up receiving nothing when the distribution of your estate occurs.
# 3 – Medical Power of Attorney and Other Medical Directives
People who enter into second marriages must make the decision rather they would like their children or their new spouse to make decisions regarding the type of medical care the person receives in emergency situations. Some people also decide to allow a spouse to make some medical decisions, while that person’s children make other medical choices. Regardless of who you choose to give these powers to, make sure that both your current spouse and children understand your intentions and that the appropriate documents are adequately updated to reflect your intentions.
# 4 – Homes Owned Before the Marriage
If you owned a home before your second marriage and your spouse moved into the residence, you should consider whether you would ultimately like this property to pass to your children. If you add your spouse to the title of this property, your spouse will inherit the property on your death and your children will not receive anything.
The title of the home supersedes any terms that you might have placed in your will. Some people decide to keep the home in their name but also establish a trust that allows a spouse to reside in the home until that person passes away. Then, when the spouse passes away, the property is passed on to the children.
Obtain the Assistance of an Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate planning is a challenging process, but an experienced estate planning attorney can help navigate various problems. If you need the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney, do not hesitate to contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.