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Second Marriages Can Create Estate Planning Problems for the Unwary

On behalf of Joe Lucas at Lucas Law

The National Stepfamily Resource Center reports that almost half of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, and 75 percent of those who divorce marry again. Of those remarriages, about 65 percent will involve children from a previous marriage. With the country's families becoming more complicated, more people have to address estate planning issues that accompany blended families.

Intentions Gone Awry

One of the most important things to do for people who are remarrying is simply update their estate plans to ensure that former spouses are no longer a part of them. Once remarried, a parent may wish to leave certain things to a child, such as an inheritance, a family home or the proceeds from a particular investment account or life insurance policy. He or she may also want to provide for a new spouse in the will.

However, despite the parent's intent to leave these assets to the child, he or she often forgets to update his or her estate plan so that the former spouse is no longer a beneficiary in the will or non-probate asset, leaving the children and new spouse without the asset.

Difficult Relationships

One of the more problematic situations that arises when estate planning in a second marriage is when one of the spouse's children from a former marriage do not make the new spouse feel like part of the family. Understandably, the spouse who does not receive a warm welcome often wants to ensure that his or her assets go only to his or her children - not the stepchildren. Such wishes can cause hard feelings between the spouses and end up creating more tension within the blended family.

Those who decide to leave everything to their new spouses with instructions to provide for all of the couple's children may end up unintentionally disinheriting their children if the surviving spouse does not change his or her will to include all the children.

Talk to an Attorney

Estate planning in blended families can be complicated and raises many issues for couples to consider. If you are getting remarried, talk to an experienced lawyer who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.

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