Multiple marriages frequently bring complexity to estate planning. While some people need a few tries to find true love, just one slip up on a will can cost the heirs of a past marriage the entire estate. This potential for error can be something that many people overlook.
Take Tony for example. Tony’s first marriage lasted barely a year. His second marriage lasted for ten and he has two great kids to show for it. Now that Tony is preparing to marry his third wife, Christina, he wants to know how to continue to provide for his kids. Specifically, he wants to include them in his will, but not their mother (his second wife).
What can Tony do to ensure that his children are the beneficiaries? Also, what can Tony do if he were to have a child with his third wife Christina? Basically, how does Tony protect his estate over several marriages?
A Minnesota estate plan can leave certain accounts or possessions or real estate to particular persons. However, these may require the approval of Christina if she is giving up what the probate law would otherwise provide to her. An honest discussion between Tony and Christina would be a good start.
Tony and Christina may plan to have a child. This can be a blessing for the family but it can be a source of friction. Christina may feel very different about her stepchildren receiving an inheritance after her own child is born. This makes estate planning especially important, since the state of Minnesota will handle a probate differently if Christina has a child with Tony.
Tony and Christina can sign a trust that administers their assets together and provides for their children from the past and present marriage. This can be a very good option, given that children are already part of the equation. Additionally, trusts can be very specific, and provide more options in administering the estate than a will.
Another possibility is signing a transfer on death deed that puts one or more of their children on the title to real estate. This is an option that requires some due diligence and planning for the transfer to occur. Tony may want to notify the children in advance of this option, since they may incur financial impacts once the transfer occurs.
These are all possible solutions to the dilemma of how to provide for a surviving spouse as well as children from more than one marriage.
The details are important, which is why you should always consult with a skilled estate planning attorney in order to create your estate plan.
The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.