Are you planning to remarry or have you recently remarried? Have you considered how remarriage and estate planning often work hand in hand? In a first marriage, the goals of each spouse are typically aligned: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, and then divide what is left equally among the children. By contrast, if the children are still minors, you set up a trust for the kids until they are adults. This makes sense because most couples jointly own their assets but not necessarily when dealing with remarriage and estate planning.

In a subsequent marriage or when marrying later in life or after amassing significant wealth, however, the goals may not be so perfectly aligned, and the old methods for estate planning may not work as well any more. For example, if you decide to put your new spouse on the title of your home, it is now considered to be owned jointly with the right of survivorship. That means, when you pass, the home becomes the property of your spouse, without restriction, and there may be no guarantee that he or she will pass it along to your children from a prior relationship. Promises can be made, but in the end, they can also be broken.

Therefore, the first tip for remarriage and estate planning should be to consider planning separately. This can be particularly true if you or your soon-to-be spouse has significant assets. This decision may be best made together. Have an honest conversation about your individual estate planning goals. If your goals are sufficiently similar, then you may be able to plan jointly. If they are significantly different, consider having separate attorneys.

Second, if you have significantly more assets than your spouse, consider using a QTIP trust in remarriage and estate planning. With a QTIP Trust, for example, your spouse could continue to live in your home, but upon his or her death, your children and not your spouses’ would inherit the property.

Third, consider naming a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance. The trust can allow you to control when and to whom monies are distributed, so that you can provide for your spouse during his or her lifetime, and yet keep control over the proceeds. The trust can also protect your spouse from irresponsible spending, creditors, predators, and even estate taxes.

If you have remarried, our office is here to help you develop or revise your estate plan accordingly. Please reach out to us today for assistance.