May 23, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Second Marriages, Part Two: Solutions

In Part One, we looked at some of the planning issues that arise in second marriages. Planning that often works well in a first marriage—owning property jointly with your spouse and naming your spouse as beneficiary of insurance policies and retirement benefits—usually doesn’t work in a second marriage.
The issue becomes how to provide for your current spouse without disinheriting your own children. While planning for second marriages is more complicated, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you work out an arrangement that works for everyone involved.
Suggestions may include:
  • If each of you has considerable assets, you may want to keep your assets and your estate planning separate.
  • If your spouse has considerably fewer assets than you do, you can provide for him or her until death or remarriage, then have the remaining assets distributed to your children.
  • If your new spouse is much younger than you are, your children may be concerned that your new spouse is only after your money. These feelings may subside as the marriage lengthens. But if your spouse is closer in age to your children than to you, your children may be wondering if they will ever receive their inheritance from you. You may want to consider giving them some of their inheritance upon your death, then the rest at your spouse’s death or remarriage.
  • Naming a trust as beneficiary for your life insurance policies and tax-deferred plans is often a good choice for second marriages. This will allow you to keep control over how and to whom the proceeds are distributed. You can provide your spouse with lifetime income, yet keep control over the rest of the proceeds. Keeping the proceeds in a trust will also protect them from irresponsible spending, creditors, predators, divorce, remarriage and even estate taxes, if the trust is properly.
  • Plan for disability and long-term care. If one spouse becomes ill and Medicaid assistance is needed, the combined assets of the couple will be considered “available assets” to pay for the care of the ill spouse. Long-term care insurance may be needed to protect the assets of one or both spouses.
  • Discuss your individual estate planning goals together. If they are similar, then your task may be somewhat easy. But if they are considerably different, consider having separate attorneys.
You want to do the right thing for everyone involved: yourself, your spouse, your children and your spouse’s children. Take the time to consider this from everyone’s point of view. Your estate planning attorney will be able to advise you and work with both of you to create a plan that will do exactly what you want it to do. 

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