Entering into a second, third, or subsequent marriage is an exciting time in your life. However, it can be extremely stressful and worrisome if you have children. To make matters even more challenging, what happens if your new spouse also has children from a previous marriage?
Whether your previous marriage ended in divorce or you were widowed, blending a new family has its challenges and you need to protect yourself and your children (minor or adult). The compassionate and experienced team at Edwin Cook Law can help ensure that the proper protections are put in place when getting remarried.
Review Estate Planning Documents
If you had estate planning documents in place during a previous marriage, you need to review these documents with a member of our firm to ensure that they still reflect your wishes. If they don’t, you will need to edit these documents immediately. When it comes to your fiduciary designations, you should ask the following questions:
- Who was named as the trustee of your trust?
- Who was named as the executor of your will?
- Who was named as the agent under a health care power of attorney, property power of attorney, or health care proxy?
If any of the answers turn out to be your former or deceased spouse, you will need to review the alternates. If your spouse is deceased, the alternate will take their place, so long as you still want that person in charge of your estate. If you are divorced, you will want to remove your spouse from those positions of power immediately and either name your new spouse, a trusted friend, or an adult child.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
Since you are moving into a second, third, or subsequent marriage you should consider creating a prenuptial agreement. This will not only protect you and your assets, but also your minor children. A prenuptial agreement is a great way to protect the financial assets you bring to the marriage so that your new spouse does not take control of them upon your death, especially if you want the assets to go to your children.
The prenuptial agreement can take precedence over the will when it comes to you separating, how support will be paid, and how property will be divided. The prenuptial agreement can outline how assets are to be kept with each person (if still in sole name possession) should divorce occur or how assets acquired during the marriage will be handled.
Create a Living Trust
A Living Trust is an excellent option when you want your child to receive assets but not immediately. You can name someone to manage the trust, known as the trustee. He or she will need to follow the instructions you laid out and ensure that the beneficiary of the trust does not receive any assets until the date stated. You choose the date. It can be when the child turns 18, when they graduate high school or college, when they get married, or even when they reach 20 or any other age you decide is appropriate.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
It is in your best interest to keep an open line of communication with your new partner. If you haven’t married yet, but plan to move in together, a discussion of how the expenses will be split should occur. This discussion should also include whether or not the payment of expenses will provide part ownership of the property, especially if only one of you owns it outright at this time.
It is also important that you discuss your plans on what is being left behind to your own children or any children you might have together. If you only plan to leave assets to your children, and not yours and your new spouse’s, you need to express this wish.
Schedule a Consultation with an Estate Planning Attorney Today
The compassionate and experienced estate planning team at Edwin Cook Law understands the challenges that arise when getting remarried and blending two families together. We can answer your questions and help put strong protections in place that prevent your assets from going to anyone other than the people you name. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.