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Second marriages require special estate planning

Many marriages in Texas end in divorce, and people are remarrying at older ages. Because the spouses at the time of the other spouses' deaths may not be their first husbands or wives, estate planning must take marital history into consideration. This is especially true if there are children from previous marriages who may receive inheritances under wills or estate plans.

It is not uncommon that someone remarrying has adult children for whom he or she wants to provide. There is also the question of ensuring that the new spouse have sufficient money to survive, especially if the partners have reached retirement age. In many cases, trusts are established to give the new spouses income during their lifetimes and then to distribute the assets fairly among surviving children.

In Texas, spouses are protected to a certain degree from complete disinheritance in the event of their partners' deaths. In the absence of an estate plan, the normal procedure is to allow a spouse the greater of one third of the estate or $50,000. The only asset excluded from this calculation is life insurance. Elective share portions can only be waived with the recipient spouses' written consent. Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are one way to take care of waivers on the part of one or both spouses.

Estate planning is complex even when the partners have only been married once. For people in second or subsequent marriages, it often helps to have the assistance and advice of estate planning attorneys who may devise estate plans that protect both parties. Divorcing spouses may wish to work with estate planning attorneys to ensure that their individual assets be protected.

Source: Huffington Post, "Estate planning in a second marriage," Ann Margaret Carrozza, March 28, 2013

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