Estate Planning for Subsequent Marriages

Estate planning for second and subsequent marriages can be complicated and requires the assistance of an experienced Estate Planning Attorney. Subsequent relationships may involve a disparity of wealth, a substantial age difference, and pre-existing obligations to a former spouse and/or children from a previous relationship, all of which are important factors to consider in deciding the appropriate Estate Plan for you.

With the large number of blended families, couples must now address how to provide for "his, hers and theirs" children. Issues relating to premarital property, property acquired during the subsequent marriage, distributions to children from the current relationship and prior relationships, and obligations from a previous Judgment of Divorce must be addressed. Whereas it is common in first marriages for a husband and wife to simply leave everything to their surviving spouse, subsequent relationships and marriages present unique issues which may make such a distribution impractical. In a second marriage, the future relationship between your spouse and your children may be uncertain, and an outright distribution to your spouse may have the effect of disinheriting your children. Or, you may wish to leave a sum certain to your children which may have the unintended effect of leaving your spouse with insufficient assets upon your death.

A properly drafted estate plan can eliminate the possibility of disinheritance of your children and their descendants, protection of your spouse and his/her home and elimination of disputes regarding asset distribution between the two or more families.

Further, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have become common in second marriages, and incorporating these agreements into estate and trust plans for spouses of second marriages can present challenges. There may also be significant tax implications to such prior agreements. In addition, even of certain property is designated as "separate property" in a prenuptial agreement, Medicaid does not recognize assets as separate. Medicaid considers the assets of both spouses as being available for the care of the ill spouse, regardless of whose name they are in or the existence of a prenuptial agreement. Hence, the need, amount and availability of long-term care insurance should be considered in second marriages. Medicaid planning as well as setting up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust for one or both spouses should be considered.

Contact the experienced Estate Planning Attorneys at CLOS, RUSSELL & WIRTH, P.C. to discuss, update and/or revise your current estate plan, or to prepare a comprehensive estate plan that will accomplish your goals and offer you and your family peace of mind.