How to Plan Your Estate When You Remarry

by Daniel A. Perry

As an estate planning attorney, I speak with families every day regarding a wide variety of their concerns when it comes to estate planning. These concerns range from taxes, to keeping the government out of their private affairs, to avoiding probate, to protecting their children’s inheritance from divorce, to planning for a special needs child.

However, something that families fail to think about is advanced planning when there is a second marriage or remarriage involved.

If you’re in a second marriage and have children from a first marriage, you have special planning considerations. Let me tell you the story of John and Jane Smith. John and Jane were married about 8 years ago. It was a second marriage for both. John had three children from a prior marriage, and Jane had two children from from her first marriage. Unfortunately, John and Jane did not consider what their estate planning would do to their children.

John and Jane both wrote Wills leaving their entire estate to each other. As it turned out, John died first, leaving his entire estate to Jane. A few years after John’s death, Jane died. She her entire estate to her two children.

But what about John’s three children? Unfortunately, John’s three children received nothing. They were essentially written out of John’s estate when John left everything to his second wife, Jane.

How to protect your children

The above story happens all too frequently. A few years after the death of a spouse, a person gets remarried. Then because they don’t know any better, writes out their own children out of their estate. Something I am sure that the person never would have wanted.

For families in a second marriage situation, it’s important to engage in proper estate planning. This type of planning may include a revocable living trust that becomes irrevocable at the death of the first spouse. This option preserves that person’s assets for distribution to their adult children from a prior marriage.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the proper comprehensive estate plan to put in place for your family to ensure a smooth transition of your wealth to the next generation, then please contact our office for a complimentary visit and conversation so that we can discuss your estate planning needs.

We look forward to hearing from you!