How to Approach Estate Planning with a Second Marriage

Estate planning can be an emotionally charged undertaking even in a first marriage. When you sit down to discuss estate planning with a future or current second spouse, it can get even more emotionally charged and complicated. There is no right or wrong way to estate plan when you are contemplating, or are in, a second marriage; however, there are some things that you and your new spouse can consider before sitting down at the proverbial estate planning table.

  • Consider your wishes and goals separately before sitting down together to talk.
  • Imagine different scenarios and how you would want them to play out. For example, what happens if you die first? If your spouse dies first? What if your two have children together down the road? What happens if you two get divorced in the future?
  • Talk to your estate planning attorney about a life estate or Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) trust if you want to protect your spouse without actually handing over assets to him or her.
  • Pay particular attention to personal items or family heirlooms when estate planning as any existing children may be offended if these items are inadvertently left to a new spouse.
  • Talk to your attorney about a pre-nuptial or anti-nuptial agreement. People often make the mistake of assuming these are geared at the idea of a future divorce when, in fact, they are often an excellent tool for estate planning for couples getting re-married.


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