Second Marriage and Estate Planning

Published On: July 14th, 2022|Categories: Estate and Trust Planning, Marriage|

A second marriage following a divorce or death comes with many legal considerations. Having another spouse may require one to change their estate plan. It may be an answer you’re not willing to deal with right now, especially after going through a happy moment like marriage. However, getting this handled will reduce any issues down the line for your new spouse and your children from a previous relation.

Having an attorney that is experienced in preparation and adjustment for estates is essential. A lawyer from Crest Key Legal and Accounting can help you with all your second marriage estate planning in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Second Marriage Inheritance Issues

Based on current laws, the second spouse will stand to inherit a significantly large amount of your property in the event of an untimely death. If you have children from your previous relationship, you’d want to plan out their inheritance. If they are still minors, you may want to have someone manage the assets on their behalf, be it your new spouse or someone else.

The crucial part here is having a clear and enforceable plan that states your inheritance wishes. It leads to less confusion and prevents you from inheriting attorneys you do not know, and prevents setting your family on fire.

Second Marriage After Death of Spouse

The issue with second marriages is that there is a significant chance she/he will not keep to his/her word. Even with well intentions, having proper estate plan prepare for the worst-case scenario is a smart move. Without a clear plan in place, the surviving spouse stands a high chance of leaving the children from your first marriage without the inheritance you intend.

Plans destine to failure is leaving all to surviving spouse and hope they will provide a “fair inheritance” to your children. If the second spouse passes, highly her/his property will likely go to her/his children. To prevent any complications, put your plan into writing that has language to enforce your wishes to provide for your new spouse and for your children from a previous relationship.

What a Second Wife is Entitled To

As mentioned earlier, a second wife will stand to inherit a significant amount of your property if you do not plan your estate well.

For example, during a second marriage, a couple shares ownership of a fully paid home worth $300,000. The husband brought all of the fund he earned before the marriage to purchase the residence. After the husband’s death, the surviving wife becomes the house owner. The surviving wife can then change her will or establish a trust to give her childing the house. The husband’s children from the first marriage will then inherit nothing. Talk about setting the husband’s children on fire.

If the husband leaves the house in trust, the wife can retain use. However, after her death, the husband’s children from the first marriage will have the first say in the house.  This is a much better outcome. The surviving wife has use of the house, and after your death, the husband’s children will inherit the house.

Who Comes First in a Second Marriage?

Without a will, a state’s inheritance law will apply by default. According to these laws, the surviving spouse in the second marriage will become the priority in inheritance. If the first marriage of the husband has children who are still underage, it can cause hardship to surviving children. If the couples don’t have a conversation about this, the surviving spouse in a second marriage can easily stand to gain everything.

What is Fair in Second Marriage and Estate Planning?

Fairness for your spouse and for your children from previous relationship in a second marriage depends on many factors, some only you know. Here are just a few considerations. How needy is your second spouse because of illness, age, lifestyle, etc. How reasonable are the needs? How does your surviving spouse treat and respect your children? How young are your children and what are their needs? Are such needs reasonable? All can be addressed in a will or trust set up by an experienced estate planning attorney.

All your wishes boil down to agreement between you and your second spouse and whether you both are on the same page with the inheritances. Most agreements can be documented in a well drafted will or trust.

Property Rights

A surviving spouse in a second marriage, will have the same rights to the property as the first spouse in the first marriage. The surviving spouse will receive a substantial amount of your property by state laws. They’ll also acquire the property if you don’t have a will. It is a situation that can result in a lot of conflicts if there is no will and trust.  One thing will likely occur, you will inherit attorneys you do not know. Just imagine that attorney will use the fees she/he earns to pay the college tuition for her/his children – not your children or grandchildren.

If the husband wants the house to pass on to his children from first marriage after his death, he must state it in his will or a trust. Both can give rights to the surviving spouse to use assets during their lifetime. However, the certainty of ownership will always go to the children from the first marriage, not to the wife’s children and not to the benefit of a lawyer’s family.

Manage Your Estate Carefully

Without speaking to you we can’t recommend the same scenario and approach for each new marriage. Some may want the second family to inherit the most after their death. Others may not want to leave more to their children from the first marriage.  You need the help of an attorney who not only focuses on estate planning, but who has litigation experience on tricks attorneys use to defeat an estate plan to ensure your wishes are honored, no matter what happens.

Crest Key Legal and Accounting has been helping couples for over 25 years in Las Vegas, Nevada, with proper estate planning. For more information send an email to us at [email protected], or Tweet at us at @CrestKey.

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