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Second (and subsequent) marriages are more common today than ever before. While a second marriage can bring love and happiness to your life, it can also bring challenges from an estate planning standpoint. This is especially true if you or your spouse have children from previous relationships. You want to protect and provide for your new spouse at your death, but you also want to make sure your children are taken care of.
What to Do Before Beginning Your New Estate Plan
Before you make an appointment with your estate planning attorney, find a time to sit down with your spouse and discuss your financial goals and how you expect to provide for your family should something happen. Be sure to talk about how you expect the assets you brought into the marriage, as well as the marital assets you are accruing, to be left to your children and/or other family members.
Financial issues can be very hard subjects to discuss for couples, so if you believe the conversation is simply going to be too uncomfortable, consider including a trusted financial adviser or estate planning attorney who can help take the emotions out of the discussion.
During this conversation with your new spouse, you’ll want to discuss the following:
- Long-term financial goals
- How you hope to provide for children and stepchildren, and other family members
- Any contractual or financial obligations you may have with your ex, as detailed in your divorce papers
- Guardianship issues for any minor children in the home.
What To Include In Your New Estate Plan
After your discussion with your new spouse, it’s time to start planning! There are a few considerations that you’ll want to remember when writing your new estate plan:
- Community Property. California is a “Community Property” state, meaning that assets acquired and income earned during a marriage are considered the property of both spouses. Using valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreements may help you structure assets in a way that will help you meet your estate planning goals.
- Beneficiary Designations. Your named beneficiaries on things like life insurance and retirement accounts will take precedence over your estate planning documents like Wills and Trusts. So, it is critical to make sure those designations are up-to-date and accurately reflect your wishes – and your new spouse’s wishes.
- Protecting Assets with Trusts. Using Trusts as a key part of your estate planning strategy can help you ensure your spouse would have the financial assets he or she would need in the event of your death, while also providing a legacy for your children. There are a variety of options for structuring your legacy using trust provisions.
Estate planning takes on a heightened importance in second and subsequent marriages. Make sure that your estate planning documents accurately reflect your (and your new spouse’s) wishes.
At the Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center, PLC, we will build an effective and strong estate plan for you and your family to fit your unique needs. Our services alleviate wealth concerns and help you to enjoy life and focus on what really matters, your family. Contact us today to get started!