Meeting with an Estate Planning attorney is critical when you remarry with children from a previous relationship. You want to protect both your Spouse and your Children so that you don’t accidentally disinherit anyone. Plus, you want to maintain control over what happens to your assets, whether it’s a thousand dollars or ten million.
The Good news is you are thinking about protecting your family and making this process easy for them.
Wills are not a contract between two people. Meaning if one Spouse passes away and you leave everything to your Spouse, your Spouse can make a new will. They can leave their assets to their children, or a charity, or anyone they want. Most spouses don’t act in bad faith, but things change, families grow apart, people pass away, or maybe even one of their loved ones is taking advantage of them. Either way, you want to make sure you make a plan that represents your wishes. Also, please understand that when you have children from a previous marriage, you now have a complex Estate; it’s similar to having over 10 million dollars in assets, well, at least with the current tax laws.
In Estate Planning in Texas, there are three main ways we help clients:
- Will Based Planning – Create a Basic Will. Plus, give your children specific assets, like designating them as beneficiaries on a life insurance policy or giving your hat collection to your children while you are still alive.
- Will Based Planning + Trusts – create a trust inside the will that goes to the children after the second Spouse passes away.
- Trust-Based Planning – Create a Revocable Living Trust similar to the language above, plus the added benefit of avoiding Probate with careful planning.
Usually, the preferred strategy is to use a Will based plan with a Trust or just a Revocable Living Trust. This is key because you and your Spouse can control how your assets are divided after passing away. Essentially, instead of giving your assets to your Spouse, you are letting them use your assets during their lifetime. Then, any unused assets are given to your children upon your Spouse passing away. This way, it takes the pressure off of your Spouse and your children, and they can focus on grieving and not making sure they are paying bills or are they going to get Dad’s favorite hat to remember him by or something similar. Everyone manages grief differently; this is why it’s critical to plan with an attorney that focuses on Estate Planning.
One cautionary piece of advice to keep in mind is that everyone grieves differently, so if you are worried about a Spouse overspending or your Spouse and children not getting along, we can do things in the trust to limit power. For example, you can select a third-party impartial trustee that will be fair and manage those assets for the Spouse.
One more cautionary piece of advice don’t forget about your Ancillary documents; these are documents that control if you become incapacitated. It’s equally important to plan for incapacity, such as getting in a car accident or getting Covid. We include all of the below in our packages:
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney
- HIPAA Authorization
- Healthcare Directive (aka Living Will)
- Declaration of Guardian before Need Arises
- Disposition of Remains
With thoughtful planning, you can avoid disinheriting your children and your Spouse and create a plan that represents your specific wishes.