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Estate Planning for Second Marriages

Second Marriages & Updating Your Estate Plan

Do you need an attorney to update your estate plan in Fairfax? Whether due to divorce or death, many people experience multiple marriages during their lifetimes. You will need to update your legal documents following divorce or death, and again upon remarriage. With nearly 50 years of collective experience, a Fairfax estate planning attorney from our firm can assist you in updating your documents.

You will need to review:

  • Your will and/or living trust;
  • Medical power of attorney;
  • Durable general power of attorney to be sure that the appropriate persons are named as your executors, trustees, beneficiaries and agents;
  • Beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts; and
  • Jointly held assets also should be reviewed as part of the estate planning process.

Estate planning for second marriages can be complex. You may need to address several goals, such as providing for your spouse, leaving an inheritance to your children from a prior marriage and meeting obligations of a property settlement agreement. In some cases, these goals may conflict with one another. There are several tools that can be used to plan for second marriages:

Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements

Estate planning should begin prior to marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be used to establish what assets each spouse brings to the marriage. The agreement can address how the property will be divided when one spouse dies, and can waive inheritance rights provided to spouses by law. Without a prenuptial agreement, state law gives your spouse the right to receive a portion of your estate, regardless of the terms of your will or living trust.

Postnuptial agreements can be executed by couples who did not sign a prenuptial agreement, and can be used to alter the terms of an earlier agreement.

Advantages of Marital Trusts

Marital trusts allow you to provide for your spouse during his or her lifetime, without giving up control of the distribution of those assets at your spouse's death.

  • The assets in a marital trust are available only to your spouse while he or she is living.
  • Your spouse receives all of the income from the trust and can use principal as needed.
  • You can name the beneficiaries to receive any assets remaining after your spouse passes away.

Marital trusts are beneficial in planning to avoid or minimize state or federal estate taxes. Tax laws allow an unlimited estate tax deduction when you leave your estate outright to your spouse. Special planning is needed if you want to direct how those assets are distributed at your spouse's death. A qualified terminal interest property trust (known as a "QTIP" or Marital Trust) can allow you to provide for your spouse and to provide for distribution of excess resources at your spouse's death.

Contact Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy, PLC today for professional assistance!