What circumstances are unique to second marriages?
In most "first marriages" estate plans, the couple plans for the surviving spouse to have access to all of the assets at the death of the first spouse. Typically, the couple also wants the assets split equally among their children at the death of the surviving spouse, but such planning seldom meets the needs of "second marriage" families. A second marriage creates unique circumstances that require special planning.
Here are just some of the special planning circumstances that confront many couples in a second marriage:
- One spouse wants to keep property in his or her own name.
- One spouse does not want to be responsible for the other's debts.
- Each has differing investments philosophies.
- They desire different beneficiaries for their life insurance policies, annuities, and retirement accounts.
- They want their estate to be distributed to different beneficiaries (such as their respective children from their previous marriages, siblings, parents, or charities).
- The difference in age between the children from the previous marriages and the children of the new marriage requires special planning for guardianships, college expenses, and the ultimate distribution of the inheritance.
While these situations are common to most second marriages, every family is different and will have unique challenges that require special planning.