In first marriages, working together to raise children can solidify a bond. However, in a second marriage, the dynamics with adult children change. If important estate planning issues are not addressed, the relationship between the siblings and the new spouses can have serious consequences, according to an article titled “Into the Breach; Getting Married Again?” from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Even if there are no children, there may be family heirlooms or items with sentimental value you want to keep in the family, perhaps passing to a cousin, nephew, or niece.
Having early discussions with your future spouse before you remarry about your assets, finances, and wishes for your property and loved ones is essential. Consider the following list of issues to review together from an article in The Bristol Press titled, “Plan your estate before you remarry.”
Take an inventory of all assets and liabilities. Inheritances, financial matters, especially if one party has the majority of the income and assets, are crucial. Review life insurance policies, retirement plans, credit card debt, and anything you own. Being open and honest about your debts and assets ensures transparency in the union.
Decide how you will handle finances. Address questions like: Will you combine all assets? Keep investment accounts separate? How will household expenses and remaining debt be managed? Remember, post-marriage, you might become liable for your partner’s debts, which could impact credit scores.
Real estate matters, such as deciding on a primary residence if both parties own homes, and considerations for rental income or selling other properties, should be discussed. Will both names be on the title for the primary residence?
Decide what you want to happen when you die. Meet with an experienced Tyler estate planning attorney who has experience with estate planning for second marriages, like Bradley S. Campbell. He can help you create a comprehensive estate plan. Ensure that children from prior marriages are not disinherited. Address this through trusts, life insurance policies, or joint property ownership. Inheritances in second marriages often become contentious. Without proper planning, stepchild battles can become expensive and bitter.
Do not overlook the influence of the spouses of adult children. A disgruntled partner can create significant issues within the family.
This becomes more complex in a second marriage. Determine who will make critical decisions during incapacitation. Consider family dynamics, like how adult children might respond to an elderly step-parent. Discuss health care proxies and power of attorney well in advance. If relationships are strained, consider individual discussions instead of group ones.
Meet with an estate planning attorney, especially if you have children or significant assets. Update your will and other estate planning documents. Consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Determine if you need a trust to protect children in a second marriage. Consult with Bradley S. Campbell before saying, “I do…again.”