You don’t need to be Elizabeth Taylor to be on your second, third, or even fourth or fifth marriage. If you’ve had more than one spouse, you have special financial and estate planning needs, especially if you have children with each spouse. Neglecting these issues is a surefire way to create a less-than-desired result in the event of illness, incapacity, or death. The best way to have a smooth transition upon disability or death is to create a comprehensive strategy before you aren’t here to execute the papers.
A Special Strategy
Remarriage may result in cordial, but often not close, step relations. Frequently, such people thrown together by marriage merely tolerate each other until the biological parent dies or becomes disabled. For example, if the spouse who has the majority of assets dies first, who wins? The surviving spouse? The children? If a parent is not careful, his or her children may be unintentionally disinherited. If the children are protected, the surviving spouse may be disinherited. What’s a person to do?
A special plan for a blended family would include a prenuptial agreement along with a fully funded, revocable living trust. This can only be accomplished by working with a trusted adviser who has specialized knowledge in extended families. Another key component in an estate plan for a blended family is the successor trustee. It’s essential that the successor is savvy, compassionate, and, hopefully, familiar with family issues.
A Checklist to Guide You
The following are some questions you should address with your adviser:
- How is the successor trustee selected?
- How will the successor trustee feel about paying money to the person who might not select him?
- How can the surviving spouse be prevented from changing the deceased spouse’s beneficiaries?
- How will the children feel about the step-parent spending their inheritance?
- How will the children feel about the spouse making cessation of life choices?
- What is the relationship between the successor trustee and the surviving spouse or the children?
- How do the trusted advisers ensure the succession plan will go as planned?
- How will the assets earned during the marriage be distributed?
- How should the required retirement plan distributions be made?
- How long should the children wait to receive their money, especially if the surviving spouse is only a few years older than the children?
By addressing these issues now, you’ll have greater peace of mind. You can ensure that your goals, aspirations, and desires will be carried out when you’re no longer here to oversee them yourself.