If you are one of the many Americans who are in a second (or third or fourth…) marriage, you need to re-evaluate your estate plan. Unlike a typical first marriage, subsequent marriages often require special consideration that should address children from a prior marriage and the disposition of assets acquired and accumulated before the second marriage.

Here are a few things to consider when updating your estate plan:

  • You need to ensure that your children from your previous marriage(s) receive assets from YOUR estate, even if you want to provide your second spouse with adequate resources to live should you die first.
  • Review how your assets are titled. Assets that are jointly owned in your name and your second spouse’s name are set up to pass to your second spouse, regardless of any instructions in your will.
  • If you are designating your second spouse as beneficiary on retirement accounts, fine, but remember that when you die, the second spouse has complete control over those accounts. He or she can even change the beneficiary of those accounts for when he or she dies.  That is even despite any promises to name your children from a previous marriage as successor beneficiaries.
  • Review or consider setting up a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
  • If your new spouse is closer in age to your children than to you, your children may worry that they may never receive an inheritance. Consider passing your children additional assets upon your death – you could do so by purchasing additional life insurance, for example.

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