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Estate Planning Considerations When Getting Married Later In Life

I have worked with many clients who got married later in life. With proper planning, the experience can be fantastic! However, it is critical that if you or someone you know is thinking about marriage later in life, that they take proper steps to protect them and their family in case of death or incapacity.

In many cases, one may have to cope with adult children who cannot understand why mom or dad wants to remarry. By updating one’s estate plan, many concerns related to the marriage can be minimized.

In second marriages later in life, there is often a desire to allow all or part of the estate of the first spouse to die to be available for the surviving spouse during his or her life. Upon the surviving spouse’s death, the estate can then be distributed to children or family member of the first spouse to die.

The best way to ensure that one’s assets are available for a surviving spouse but ultimately distributed to one’s children from a prior marriage is through the use of a trust. The trust can be created within a will (this is called a testamentary trust) or it can be created within a living trust (this is a trust created while one is alive).

Significantly, the trust maker would set forth the terms of the trust according to his or her wishes, and would select the trustee (or trustees) to manage the trust. Upon the death or incapacity of the trust maker, the trustee would then manage the trust assets subject to those specified wishes of the trust maker.

For couples in a second marriage, it is often important to sign a marital agreement that states each spouse can dispose of his or her estate as desired. If such a document is not signed, a surviving spouse could contest the estate plan of the deceased spouse.

Proper estate planning in these circumstances can be a great blessing. It can relieve significant concerns of adult children when a parent remarries later in life, and it can bring peace of mind to the parent, knowing that he or she has succeeded in protecting the financial legacy of the children.

If you would like to discuss updating an existing estate plan or preparing a new one, you may contact the Law Office of Joseph M. Barton at 415-235-9162 or

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