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Remarriage: planning for the second time around

Like anything else, marriage is different the second time around. In part, this is simply because you're older and are better able to set the right expectations. After all, having gone through a divorce, you should have a better sense of the emotional and practical pitfalls to avoid from the outset.

In many second or subsequent marriages, however, there are significant estate planning issues that should be resolved at the outset. In Illinois and across the country, second marriages are occurring in large numbers. In many of these marriages, there are key decisions to be made about how assets that were acquired during the first marriage are to be shared - or not shared - with children from that earlier marriage.

Sometimes these issues are dealt with in prenuptial agreements. Other times they are addressed through the estate planning process.

In terms of estate planning, there has traditionally been a common solution used to avoid pitting a new wife (or husband) in a second marriage against children from a first marriage. That solution typically involves setting up a trust.

Here's how it often works. The surviving spouse receives income from the trust during his or her lifetime. In most cases, the surviving spouse is a widow - the new wife from a second marriage. Upon this spouse's death, the assets pass to the children from the first marriage.

If this type of arrangement suits you, keep in mind that it won't happen of itself. It is necessary to take action to accomplish it. That means creating the trust instrument designed to accomplish outcome.

It should also be noted that contingencies can occur. For example, the surviving spouse could get remarried. Or, due to declining health, he or she may have to enter a nursing facility. Obviously you can't control everything. But it's still best to think about your goals at the outset, as you enter into the second marriage.

Source: "Estate Planning In A Second Marriage," Huffington Post, Ann Margaret Carrozza, 3-38-13

Please visit our page on property division.

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