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Estate Planning for a Second Marriage

So you’ve decided to remarry? Congratulations! You’re getting a fresh start on life and beginning an exciting new chapter in your story. However, a remarriage is not without its difficulties. Compared to a first marriage, many people embarking on a second marriage are at a later stage in life and are likely to have more assets, own a home, or have children. Therefore, when it comes to estate planning, things can get a little, well, complicated. Luckily, an experienced attorney can easily set you on the right track and allow you and your new spouse to begin your lives together without worry.

Estate Planning Considerations for a Second Marriage

Because couples entering into a second marriage often have more assets than those getting hitched for the first time, there are many important considerations that they’ll need to take into account when it comes to estate planning. Among the most notable things to consider include the following, keeping in mind that we are in a community property state:

  1. Does each partner already have a will or trust set up? Do you plan on establishing a new joint will or trust or will you simply update your old ones?
  2. Which of your separate property assets, if any, will you want to retitle in both partner’s names and which assets will each partner continue to hold for themselves as separate property?
  3. Does either partner have any debts? When were they incurred? Will your assets be subject to this debt?
  4. Will you need to update your beneficiary designations? What about your healthcare documents, such as your medical powers of attorney, HIPAAs and durable powers of attorneys?
  5. Should a prenuptial agreement be considered?

Keep in mind that as you ponder these questions, that Texas is one of nine true community property states in the U.S.  What this means is that while what you bring into the marriage as separate property shall remain separate property and anything you receive by gift, devise or descent will also be your separate property, everything else you receive during the marriage such as income, for example, will presumptively be considered community property.  And, you cannot change the character of property easily, including by a simple assignment of property or deed or refinancing of real property, etc.  For this reason, understanding marital property and how it intertwines with estate planning is a necessary.

Estate Planning with Children

Estate planning always becomes more complicated when children are involved and this is especially true for a remarriage—whether you and your partner already have kids or plan on having them. When a couple that already has separate children marries, they have to consider how they wish to distribute their assets to these kids. Does each partner provide for their own kids? Are they all provided for equally out of the couple’s joint assets? It’s a complicated—and potentially fraught—situation.

In addition, if you have any minor children, you’ll have to decide what will happen to them if you or your spouse dies. Will the surviving spouse assume guardianship over the other spouse’s kids? Will they control that child’s assets?  And, what if there is an “ex” involved in that child’s life?

For remarrying couples that plan on having kids together—whether or not they already have kids—an additional set of concerns arises. If the couple already has kids, then which assets will go to the older children and which will be set aside for the new kids? Even if you don’t already have kids, you will have to consider a number of factors when planning for your future children, such as the age of both of you and your spouse and what assets each of you have and plan to acquire.

Remarriage poses a special set of challenges that can be bewildering if you’re not prepared. Speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney, though, can make your lives considerably easier.

Contact Us

Updating your estate plan can be a complicated process as it involves a sometimes head-spinning number of documents. That’s why hiring an experienced estate planning attorney is such a necessary step. At the Law Firm of Blanche D. Smith, we’re here to help. Contact us today to start planning your future and protecting your loved ones.

Monique Hineline

Smith & Smith are very professional, informative, and relatable with examples and stories to ease the estate planning process. I had the best time at their lunch and learn. Even if you already have your estate planning in place I highly recommend attending a lunch and learn. Thanks Smith & Smith!