Second marriage calls for a new estate planning effort

People who enter into a second marriage should in most cases consider making an estate plan at that time. The usual situation in Texas and elsewhere includes resolving how children from the first marriage will share in the distribution of assets on death of the parent, if at all. Since it is likely that both spouses in the second marriage have children from before, estate planning is usually a necessity that will prevent conflict and sometimes even chaos at some point in the future.

Most assets owned in the second marriage are often likely be titled jointly between husband and wife. When one of the spouses dies, the other will inherit by operation of law everything owned jointly. Without estate planning, this leaves the prior children of the first spouse to die possibly out in the cold with respect to an inheritance that the parent wanted them to receive.

This unwanted situation can occur even if both spouses have a will leaving something to children from their prior marriages. As in the preceding example, if the spouses own everything jointly, including perhaps savings and retirement accounts, when the first of them dies the other will own the property by operation of law instantly at the other's death. The deceased spouse's will is in that scenario worthless to pass anything to children from a prior marriage because all assets have passed automatically to the other spouse.

There are answers to prevent such potentially disastrous results. Those answers will require discussing numerous options and choices that will have to be made by both spouses. Their best way of assuring that all intentions will be fulfilled is to go over their estate plans with a seasoned estate planning attorney who has experience with and knowledge of Texas laws pertaining to wills, estates and estate planning.  

Source:, "Colliton: Every second marriage needs an estate plan", Janet Colliton, Aug. 8, 2016

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