New Marriage, New Estate Plan

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

With divorce and remarriage far from usual these days, estate planning can bring up some issues that are not present for people in nuclear families with only one marriage for both spouses. Wisconsin residents who are planning to get married for the second time should make estate planning as much of a priority as wedding planning. This is especially important if one or both partners has children from their prior marriages.

As explained by Forbes, if one spouse in a second marriage leaves all assets to their new spouse after they die, the children of the spouse first to die may never inherent anything. This can happen despite the true wishes of their parent. An inheriting spouse is not obligated to pass on assets or heirlooms to their stepchildren unless a person’s estate plan explicitly indicates this should happen.

It is understandable that each spouse wants to take care of the other person after they die. There are some trusts that allow the surviving spouse to receive income on which they can live after their partner dies. Then, when the second spouse passes away, the trust assets can pass on to the first spouse’s children. This allows people in blended families to accommodate their new partner and their children.

Fidelity Investments recommends that couples have open conversations not just with each other but with their extended family members, especially adult children, about their estate planning wishes. Even if a person makes choices their relatives do not like, having prior knowledge of the plans can go a long way toward preventing conflict in the heat of the moment.