Finding love for the second time can be exciting, but it can also create an estate planning challenge — especially if there are children from a prior marriage involved. When a Massachusetts resident is getting married for the second time, asset protection becomes a focal point. Many people want to provide for their new spouses in the event of their deaths, but they also want to ensure that their existing children are not denied their inheritances.
By law, surviving spouses are entitled to a certain percentage of a decedent’s estate in the absence of a will and other estate planning documents to the contrary. In this eventuality, the children from a prior marriage might not receive what the deceased spouse would have wanted. Therefore, it is essential that estate planning documents be updated to recognize the new spouse and protect children.
A balance must be reached between providing for a new spouse in the event of death and providing for existing children as well. One of the most efficient ways to do so is through the use of trusts. In addition, life insurance policies and retirement accounts can be designated to go to a certain beneficiary, which will occur outside of the will and/or trust. The flexibility of estate planning can ordinarily accommodate the wishes and goals of an individual.
Fortunately, asset protection can be achieved in order to ensure that everyone receives the inheritance that a Massachusetts resident intends for each person to receive. The documents, however, require certain language and certain execution procedures in order to be valid. Failing to make sure that they comply with current estate planning laws could cause a new spouse and family members to spend time and money in a court battle, which will negate all of the hard work an individual did.
Source: lakeconews.com, “Estate planning: Estate planning and second marriage”, Dennis Fordham, April 16, 2016