Estate planning is the process of deciding who gets a person’s property after he or she passes away and how that property is transferred. However, estate planning is an even more complex process when a person has been married before and has a blended family. If you have questions about estate planning for second marriages, consider contacting an experienced San Francisco estate planning lawyer from Von Rock Law by calling (866) 720-0195 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Potential Issues with Estate Planning for Second Marriages
Estate planning can become more complicated for people who are entering second marriages. Some of the potential issues that may arise include:
- Feelings of inequity—One of the biggest concerns in estate planning for second marriages is divided loyalties. A person who has recently remarried but has children from a previous marriage might want to protect the new spouse and the children. However, the children and the new spouse may feel that they are not being treated fairly or given the proper priority.
- Concerns regarding the commingling of assets—People who enter second marriages, in many cases, have had more years to accumulate separate property and may be concerned about mixing separate property with the community property shared with the new spouse.
- Possible remarriage—Second spouses are often more cognizant of the possibility of death, divorce, or remarriage; therefore, they may not want to leave property outright to a spouse who may remarry and use the inheritance for a future spouse and future children. A remarriage in this situation could result in children from a previous relationship being disinherited.
- Long-term care concerns—New spouses and adult children may disagree about the need for long-term care.
- Family heirlooms—A newly married spouse may have family heirlooms that he or she wants to pass down to children from a previous marriage. The new spouse, however, will need to be made aware of these sentimental items.
- Family home—The children may have grown up in a home that is part of a person’s estate. A newly remarried parent may want to leave the home to his or her children but also ensure that the new spouse has safe housing.
Questions To Answer for Estate Planning for Second Marriages
As you build your estate plan, answers to certain questions will help to give you some direction. Preparing answers ahead of time can give you a better idea about what may go into your estate plan. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Which assets do you want to leave to each of your children?
- Which assets do you want to leave to your new spouse?
- How will your estate plan change if you have children with your new spouse?
- Do you have any ongoing financial obligations to your former spouse that may affect your finances or estate plan?
- Which assets do you want to maintain as separate assets?
- Do you plan to mix your finances or property?
- Do you need to update your existing estate planning documents?
- How will you protect your children and your new spouse?
- Who will have guardianship of your minor children if something happens to you?
- Who will manage your minor children’s property if something happens to you?
Estate Planning Documents for Second Marriages
Some documents that can be particularly useful in estate planning for second marriages include:
- Prenuptial agreements
- Beneficiary designations
- Last wills and testaments
- Living wills
A person who has gone through a divorce has seen how contentious the process can become. The couple may prefer to enter into an agreement now, while there is no conflict, to establish a plan for managing finances and dividing assets if the marriage fails.
Some assets transfer outside the probate process without regard to what is stated in a person’s Last Will and Testament (will). These types of assets often involve a beneficiary designation form that states the intended beneficiary of the asset at the time of the owner’s passing. If the former spouse is still listed as the beneficiary or if the beneficiary is another family member chosen because the owner was not married at the time, the asset owner may want to update the beneficiary designations for any of the following:
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Checking accounts, money market accounts, and other financial accounts
- Stocks and bonds
Additionally, the person named as the beneficiary of the asset does not have to share the asset with anyone else. He or she will receive the asset outright. Therefore, if you want more than one person to benefit from the asset, you will need to allocate different percentages to different beneficiaries.
Last Will and Testament
The California Attorney General cautions that if you die without a will, trust, or other provision regarding the distribution of your estate, your property will pass according to state law. You can avoid this outcome by creating a will that clearly states who should inherit your property. You can also list specific heirlooms to pass on to your children or other family members.
Trusts provide greater flexibility than some other estate planning documents. With a trust, a person can create various plans and contingencies, such as what should happen to the property if the person remarries. Trusts can allow one person to use an asset and another to inherit it. For example, a trust may allow a person’s spouse to live in the home until he or she dies, and then the children can inherit the property. In this way, a trust can allow a person to protect his or her spouse’s share in the property while also preserving an inheritance for the children. If you are interested in establishing a trust for your estate, an estate planning attorney from Von Rock Law may be able to help.
A living will describes the types of end-of-life care a person would like to receive. This document also notes who will be in charge of making the decisions to withhold care if necessary to avoid confusion or conflict with other family members.
Contact an Experienced San Francisco Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Estate planning can be confusing. However, estate planning lawyers listen to their clients’ needs and make recommendations to help them achieve their objectives based on their particular situations. Lawyers draft the documents needed to protect a person’s loved ones and his or her legacy. A lawyer can also explain the provisions in the documents so the client can make informed decisions about his or her estate plan. If you have questions about estate planning for second marriages, consider contacting an experienced San Francisco estate planning lawyer from Von Rock Law by calling (866) 720-0195 to schedule a confidential consultation today.