Will My Second Marriage Impact My Estate Plan?

second marriage and estate plan
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Do not neglect estate planning for your second marriage.

Preparing for a wedding and a marriage can be stressful, especially if it is not your first trip down the aisle.

With COVID-19, you may feel as if there is no end to challenges.

As you and your future spouse plan for you big day, the last things on your radar may be estate planning.

However, according to a recent Times Herald-Record article titled “Establishing assets, goals when planning for a second marriage,” you cannot afford to neglect estate planning.

Your second marriage requires an estate plan review.
An estate plan review is important preparation for your second marriage.

Where should you begin?

Start by fully discussing the assets and liabilities each of you brings into the new union.

As you talk about your assets, you should each outline your respective estate planning goals.

Do either or both of you have children from former marriages you would like to include in your estate plan?

Do one or both of you carry debt or loans?

If one or both of you have significant personal assets, you should consider signing a prenuptial agreement prior to your second marriage.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

This is a legal contract listing the personal assets of each individual and a clarification of what will happen to any separate and marital assets in the case of death or divorce.

In many instances, it includes a “Waiver of the Right of Election.”

Another option for your second marriage may be a post-nuptial agreement.

This is similar to a prenuptial agreement but is signed after you are married, as the name implies.

Without either of these documents in place, you may be disinheriting your children and, instead, leaving everything to your surviving spouse.

You should discuss potential long-term care costs right up front, too.

How will you pay for long-term care?

Time in a nursing home or any form of custodial care is expensive and can quickly drain financial resources.

Ideally, you should both secure long-term care insurance (LTCi) right after you exchange vows.

Many LTCi companies offers “spousal discounts” when insuring both husband and wife.

If you are unable to secure LTCi, then you will need to either save a significant sum of money specifically for this purpose or work with an experienced elder law attorney to qualify for Medicaid.

When applying for Medicaid, assets belonging to both spouses are at risk.

Neither a prenuptial nor a post-nuptial agreement can protect the assets of either spouse from long-term care impoverishment when it comes to Medicaid spend-down rules.

In other words, the assets of husband and wife are considered when determining whether means-tested eligibility requirements have been met.

Yikes!

If you have children from a previous marriage and are entering your second marriage, a trust may be a wise decision.

A trust allows you to direct assets to loved ones based on your instructions.

When you create and fund a revocable living trust, you can keep certain assets separate from your spouse and provide for your children when you die.

It can provide a safeguard to keep your new spouse from making changes to upset your inheritance planning applecart.

Working with an experienced estate planning is important whenever families and finances are blended in a second marriage.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (Sep. 21, 2020) “Establishing assets, goals when planning for a second marriage”

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