Garton & Harris

What can I do to prevent fighting over my estate when I am gone?

Estate planning is something that comes about because you have assets that will be left behind when you are no longer here. Getting married a second time should be somewhat of a red flag for you to revisit your estate plan in general. Usually, there are children involved from the first marriage that will need to be included as beneficiaries, while at the same time, you will need to include your current spouse.

There may be tension when you start to change your estate plan because it is a second marriage and the kids may not feel all that warm and fuzzy about your new spouse. They may have resentment. You need to realize that while you are fine and everything looks rosy now, when you pass away, chances are that there may be animosity and rancor. Your will could end up being contested.

One tool that is useful in a situation like this is a spousal trust. This allows the surviving spouse to use trust assets during his or her life that roll over to the children upon his or her death. It is useful and can save your children and new spouse from getting the court involved. It can save you from fees as well so more of your assets get to the ones you want them to.

Another way to look at reassessing your estate is to get life insurance that pays your kids when you die. This is an excellent way to show that you care about them while also caring for your spouse. You can also split your assets into two groups: one for your children and one for your spouse.

Knowing that you have options with an estate plan can give you such a sense of peace. Getting everyone informed about what your plans are is important. It is a way to bring everyone together and avoid infighting later.

Source: The Huffington Post, "If You're in a Second Marriage, You May Need to Revisit Estate Planning," Suzana Popovic-Montag and Ian M. Hull, Aug. 20, 2015

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