Finding love for the second time is a beautiful thing, but amidst all the fireworks and violins, it’s important to be aware that second marriages typically create the need for some fairly in-depth estate planning.
To ensure wedded bliss and family harmony far beyond the wedding day, it’s critical to proactively address how your nuptials will affect your financial liabilities, existing benefits, and distribution of your assets to loved ones.
1. Communicate Like a Pro
The first step to ensure success in such matters is to have open and comprehensive conversations with your spouse and your family. You must clearly articulate your wishes and your concerns, and you must also provide a forum in which family members can share their thoughts and concerns.
Because these conversations can quickly become tactically or emotionally overwhelming, it’s a good idea to engage a trusted estate planning attorney or a professional family meeting facilitator. This impartial, professional third-party will ensure that your family conversations are collaborative and productive.
2. Ask the Hard Questions
Addressing estate planning details that are important to not only your long-term wedded bliss, but also the well-being of your entire family. Here are just a few of the key questions that come up in the event of a second marriage:
- Do you or your spouse have any financial obligations to ex-spouses?
- Do either of you have other liabilities that might negatively impact each other’s financial standing?
- Is either of you collecting benefits such as Social Security from a deceased spouse, and — if so — do you know how remarriage will affect those benefits?
- If either you or your spouse-to-be on Medicare or Medicaid, do you know if getting married will put the other party’s assets at risk?
- If either of you have children from a previous marriage, do you know how you want to handle leaving assets to them and any other heirs?
- If there are young children in your family, do you know how you plan to handle any guardianship issues and provide financially for those children?
- Have you discussed whether you will keep your assets separate, commingle them, or create a hybrid solution that involves keeping some assets separated and commingling others?
Though this is just a sampling of the kinds of questions that can arise, it’s easy to see how one question can lead to another and another and so on. The complete scope of the situation can quickly become quite broad.
This is why it’s so important to create clarity around your wishes and then put those wishes in writing.
3. Document Your Plan
Once you’ve come to terms with all the possible issues and done the up-front work of having those important conversations with your family, the last step to put all this to bed is to get the appropriate estate planning documents drafted – Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, etc. Click here to learn more about these.
Estate planning decisions for second marriages and blended families can be complicated. Give us a call and we’ll help you get this done. Once your plan is in place, you can rest assured that your intentions will be carried out.