Category: Remarriage

Divorce Impacts your Estate Plan

Divorce Impacts your Estate Plan

Divorce is a life-altering event that significantly impacts various aspects of life, including your estate plan. Clients either going through a divorce or have recently finalized one often feel uncertain about how the divorce will affect their estate. This article shares crucial aspects of revising your estate plan after a divorce, ensuring that your assets and loved ones are protected according to your current wishes.

When you get divorced, updating your estate plan is imperative, as your ex-spouse may still be entitled to certain benefits. Your estate, which includes all assets owned, might still be accessible to your ex-spouse unless changes are made. Revising your estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your updated preferences. Updating your will is essential after a divorce. Your ex-spouse may still be named as the executor or beneficiary. By revising your will, you can ensure that your estate is administered by someone you trust and that your assets are distributed according to your latest intentions.

Revoking your power of attorney is a critical step post-divorce. Your ex-spouse may be able to make financial and care decisions on your behalf. It’s advisable to appoint someone you trust to handle these matters, ensuring that your affairs are managed according to your current preferences.

Beneficiary designations are often overlooked during estate planning after divorce. It’s crucial to revise these as your ex-spouse might still be listed as a beneficiary on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other financial instruments. Updating these designations is a simple yet essential step in ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your current wishes. Your ex-spouse is likely named as a trustee or beneficiary if you have a living trust. Post-divorce, you need to revise this document to reflect your current wishes. This might include appointing a new trustee or changing the beneficiaries.

If you have minor children, your estate plan probably includes guardianship designations. Post-divorce, reassess these choices. You might want to name someone other than your ex-spouse as the guardian, ensuring that your children’s care aligns with your current wishes.

State law and the terms of your divorce decree can impact your estate plan. Understanding these implications and ensuring that your estate plan complies with legal requirements is important. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Don’t wait until the divorce is finalized. Start updating your estate plan as soon as the divorce is pending. This proactive approach ensures that your interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

Divorce significantly affects your estate plan, and it’s crucial to take timely action to revise it. Remember, updating your estate plan post-divorce is not just a legal necessity; ensuring that your assets and loved ones are protected according to your current wishes is crucial. Don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance to navigate this complex process. If you would like to read more about estate planning post divorce, please visit our previous posts. 

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Marital Trusts Help Protect Blended Families

Marital Trusts help protect Blended Families

Marital trusts help protect blended families from complicated family dynamics. Understanding marital trusts is crucial for couples looking to secure their financial future and provide for the surviving spouse tax-efficiently. This article is a guide to marital trusts, how they work and their advantages and disadvantages. With the potential to safeguard assets and ensure that they reach the intended beneficiaries, marital trusts can be an effective part of a comprehensive estate plan, particularly for those in a second marriage or a blended family.

What Is a Marital Trust?

A marital trust is a type of irrevocable trust and is crafted to benefit the surviving spouse. It allows for the managed distribution of assets, potentially safeguarding against financial imprudence or external influences.

Consider that while many couples are just fine with everything going to the surviving spouse directly and outright after one spouse dies, in some cases, there may be concerns related to the surviving spouse not being able to manage the money effectively. What would happen to the money if the surviving spouse is not good with money or is vulnerable to financial predators? Perhaps giving the entire estate outright to the spouse would run the risk that all of the money would be spent irresponsibly. A marital trust allows for both tax benefits and protections for the couple’s estate to prevent these issues from happening.

How Do Marital Trusts Work?

There are three parties involved in setting up, maintaining and ultimately passing along the trust, including a grantor, who is the person who establishes the trust; the trustee, who’s the person or organization that manages the trust and its assets; and the beneficiary. That person will eventually receive the assets in the trust once the grantor dies. The surviving spouse must be the sole beneficiary of a marital trust. Once the surviving spouse dies, the assets in the trust typically pass to surviving children. A marital trust also involves the principal, which are assets initially put into the trust.

How Do Marital Trusts Assist Blended Families?

For blended families, using a marital trust is becoming more popular as a means to help protect assets to a surviving spouse, and the inheritance of children from previous marriages. If one or both spouses in a second marriage have children from a prior marriage, both spouses typically want to ensure that their kids get an inheritance at some point in the future. While most married couples prioritize their spouse as the primary beneficiary, after the surviving spouse passes away, if the couple’s estate plan gives everything directly to the surviving spouse, that arrangement would run the risk that the children from a prior marriage of the deceased spouse would be cut off from receiving an inheritance.

While couples want to assume that a surviving spouse will protect the rights of children from their spouse’s previous marriage, without legal safeguards, the estate of the surviving spouse can be changed to cut out individuals named as beneficiaries after their spouse’s death. Having a marital trust for the surviving spouse ensures that this change can’t happen.

What Are Other Situations in Which a Couple Should Consider Using a Marital Trust?

Additional situations in which a couple might consider using a marital trust include wanting to prevent undue influence of an outside person or party over the surviving spouse. This usually is a concern for older couples when the surviving spouse is in declining health or may have early onset of dementia, and there’s a concern they may be vulnerable to being taken advantage of financially. Another motivation for a marital trust includes a spouse who has an addiction that prevents them from making sound financial choices.

Did Actor Tony Curtis Disinherit His Children Due to Undue Influence?

In 2010, when Actor Tony Curtis died, his five children were left out of their father’s inheritance in a last-minute decision shortly before his death, notes MoneyWise article, “Hollywood legend Tony Curtis cut his kids out of his will and $60 million fortune when he died. Here’s how to avoid leaving behind messy inheritance disputes.” While Curtis did have a will, he decided to leave the majority of his assets to his fifth wife, Jill, and intentionally disinherit his children. The change to his estate plan came only a few months before his death, which raised suspicions within the family. Some of the Curtis children opened estate disputes in the years following his death to challenge the disinheritance, causing additional pain and separation within their family. If Curtis were subject to the undue influence of his fifth wife, Jill, as some of the Curtis children claimed, then a trust could have protected them from being disinherited.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Marital Trust?

  • Marital trusts are significant in estate planning for high-net-worth individuals, serving as a tool to minimize the estate tax burden by taking advantage of estate tax exemptions. A married couple can significantly reduce or eliminate estate taxes by utilizing a marital trust.
  • The surviving spouse can receive income and financial stability from the trust.
  • Assets are kept in the family, and the inheritance intended for children from previous marriages is protected.

Estate Tax Exemptions with a Marital Trust

One of the most significant benefits of a marital trust is its impact on estate taxes. A marital trust effectively doubles the estate tax exemption for a married couple, ensuring that a more significant portion of their wealth can be transferred tax-free. In the context of the federal estate tax, this can result in substantial tax savings and financial security for the surviving spouse and any other designated beneficiaries.

The Unlimited Marital Deduction in Action

The unlimited marital deduction is a cornerstone of marital trust planning. It allows the first spouse to pass assets to the surviving spouse without incurring estate taxes at the time of the first spouse’s death. This deduction is a critical aspect of marital trusts, ensuring that the income to the surviving spouse provides the necessary financial support without an immediate tax burden.

Are There Disadvantages of Using a Marital Trust?

While a marital trust offers many benefits, it’s essential to consider any limitations or drawbacks, such as loss of flexibility once established.

  • Once established, an irrevocable trust cannot be easily altered or terminated.
  • Estate tax exemption is limited based on the federal estate tax threshold.
  • Marital trusts, like other types of trusts, require that assets be moved into the trust, a process that can be lengthy or overlooked.

Establishing a Marital Trust with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Setting up a marital trust is a complicated form of estate planning that involves several steps, including choosing a trustee to manage the trust assets, determining the terms under which the trust assets will be managed and distributed and ensuring that the couple’s property is held in trust. When couples have complex family situations, including blended families or a spouse with vulnerabilities, a marital trust provides for the financial well-being of the surviving spouse. It also ensures that assets are preserved for future generations.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help a couple assess if a marital trust is the right instrument to help protect their blended family as a part of a comprehensive estate plan. If you would like to learn more about planning for blended families, please visit our previous posts. 

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Important to Evaluate your Planning before a Second Marriage

Important to Evaluate your Planning before a Second Marriage

Second marriage, goes the saying, is the triumph of hope over experience. It’s a happy event for everyone, but different from the first time around. You might have created an estate plan during your first marriage. Still, chances are your life is a lot more complicated this time, especially if you both have children from prior marriages and more assets than when you were first starting out as a young adult. It is important to evaluate your planning before a second marriage. This is why a recent article from The Bristol Press is aptly titled “Plan your estate before you remarry.”

Here are some pointers to protect you and your new spouse-to-be:

Take an inventory of all assets and liabilities. This includes assets and debts, life insurance policies, retirement plans, credit card debt and anything you own. It’s important to be open and honest about your debts and assets, so that both people know exactly what they are marrying. Once you are married, you may be liable for your partner’s debts. Your credit scores may be impacted as well.

Decide how you are going to handle finances. Once you know what your partner is bringing to the marriage, you’ll want to make clear, unemotional decisions about how you’ll address your wealth. Are you willing to combine all of your assets? Do you want to keep your investment accounts separate?

For example, if one person is selling a home to move into the home owned by the other person, what costs, if any, will they contribute to the cost of the house? If one person has significant debt, do you want to combine finances or make joint purchases? These are not always easy issues. However, they shouldn’t be ignored.

Decide what you want to happen when you die. You and your future spouse should meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and other documents. This lets you map exactly where you want your assets to go when you die. If there are children from prior marriages, you’ll want to ensure they are not disinherited when you die. This can be addressed through a number of options, including creating a trust for your children, making them beneficiaries of life insurance policies, or giving children joint ownership of property.

Even if there are no children, there may be family heirlooms or items with sentimental value you want to keep in the family, perhaps passing to a cousin, nephew, or niece. Discuss this with your future spouse and ensure that it’s included in your will.

Meet with an estate planning attorney. You should take this step even if you don’t have many assets. If you have children, it’s even more important. You’ll want to update your will and any other estate planning documents. If you have significant assets, you may decide to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. The estate planning attorney will also help you determine whether you need a trust to protect your children.

If you had planning done in the past, it is important to sit down with an estate planning attorney to evaluate it in before to a second marriage. If you would like to learn more about estate planning for blended families, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: The Bristol Press (July 14, 2023) “Plan your estate before you remarry”

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Who is Authorized to Amend a Trust?

Who is Authorized to Amend a Trust?

Procrastination is the most common mistake in estate planning when people don’t create a will and trusts and when documents are not updated. For one family, a revocable trust created when both parents are living presents some complex problems now, when the surviving wife wants to make changes but is suffering from serious health issues. So who is authorized to amend a trust?

As described in the article “Estate Planning: Who can amend the trust” from NWI Times, this scenario requires a careful review of the trust document, which should contain instructions about how it can be amended and who has the authority to do so. An estate planning attorney must review the trust to ensure it can be amended.

If the trust allows the surviving settlor to amend the trust, the authority to amend it may only be given to the surviving settlor. The mother may be permitted to amend the trust. However, it can’t be anyone acting on her behalf.

If the language in the trust makes the power to amend personal, a guardian or an attorney-in-fact likely won’t be able to amend the trust. Likewise, if the mother is incapacitated and cannot do this herself, the trust may not be amendable while she is ill or disabled.

However, if the trust allows the surviving settlor to amend the trust and the power is not personal, a legal representative, such as a guardian or an attorney-in-fact, may be able to amend the documents for her, if they have the authority to do so under the terms of the trust.

Anyone contemplating this amendment must be aware of any “self-dealing” issues. The legal representative will be restricted to making changes only for the benefit of the beneficiaries and should be mindful before attempting to amend the trust.

Suppose the authority to amend doesn’t exist or other restrictions make it impossible, depending on the state’s laws. In that case, it may be possible to docket the trust with the court and obtain a court order authorizing the trustee to depart from the terms of the trust or even amend the document.

Accomplishing this is far easier if all involved agree with the changes to be made. Unfortunately, if any interested parties object, it may lead to litigation.

Depending upon the desired change, entering into a family settlement agreement may be possible after the mother dies. If everyone is willing to sign off, an agreement can be written authorizing the trustee to deviate from the terms of the trust. This will also require the guidance of an estate planning attorney to ensure that the agreement follows the state’s laws.

If family members disagree with the change, the trustee can refuse to accept the settlement agreement to protect themselves from potential liability. It is wise to sit down with your estate planning attorney and ensure you and your loved ones are familiar with who is authorized to amend a trust. If you would like to learn more about trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: NWI Times (May 7, 2023) “Estate Planning: Who can amend the trust”

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Protecting Assets in a Second Marriage can be a challenge

Protecting Assets in a Second Marriage can be a challenge

Protecting assets in a second marriage can be a challenge. Parents in second marriages may want to leave assets to their children and try to make sure that their stepchildren don’t inherit. However, if stepchildren inherit, it can create resentment leading to legal disputes that can cost the estate significantly in delay and attorney fees.

AOL’s recent article, “How to Protect Assets From Stepchildren,” says that taking specific estate planning steps will let you effectively protect your assets from stepchildren.

If a stepchild inherits some of your assets, your children may feel cheated out of their rightful inheritance. Therefore, they may contest any awards to stepchildren to protect their interests.

Your children will be recognized as heirs to your estate even without a will naming them as beneficiaries. Stepchildren don’t have the same rights.

In most cases, they won’t inherit from a deceased stepparent’s estate unless specifically listed as beneficiaries in the will. However, stepchildren still may receive assets from your estate if your spouse dies after you and leaves assets to their children. Preventing stepchildren from ever getting assets from your estate can be done. However, it requires definite action to exclude them as beneficiaries.

If your spouse from a second or later marriage dies first, you usually don’t have to do anything to prevent stepchildren from receiving assets you control.

Even after an intestate death that happens without a valid will, stepchildren typically aren’t recognized as having any right to assets in the estate. However, some states grant stepchildren some rights of inheritance. Ask an experienced estate planning attorney about this.

In addition, a will can name specific people, including stepchildren, and exclude them from receiving benefits from the estate.

Using a trust, you can ALSO prevent stepchildren from getting assets from your estate after you die.

This can help avoid conflicts and potential litigation from children upset because stepchildren received assets from the estate.

Protecting assets in a second marriage can be a challenge. Remember that if you fail to act, stepchildren can still benefit even at the expense of your children if, for example, you die before your spouse, who then names their children as beneficiaries of the estate. If you would like to learn more about remarriage protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: AOL (April 26, 2023) “How to Protect Assets From Stepchildren”

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Avoid Unintended Consequences with your Planning

Avoid Unintended Consequences with your Planning

The mistake can be as simple as signing a document without understanding its potential impact on property distribution, failing to have a last will and testament properly executed, or expecting a result different from what the will directs. Unfortunately, these unintended consequences are relatively common, says the article “Advice for avoiding unintended issues in estate planning” from The News-Enterprise. You can avoid unintended consequences with your planning by working with an estate planning attorney.

The most common mistake that leads to unintended consequences is leaving everything to a spouse in a blended family. Even if children don’t have a close relationship with their stepparent, they’re willing to get along for the sake of their biological parent. However, when the first spouse dies, the decedent’s beneficiaries are generally disinherited if the surviving spouse receives the entire estate.

If the family truly has blended and maintains close relationships, the surviving spouse may ensure that the decedent’s children receive a fair share of the estate. However, if the relationships are tenuous at best, and the surviving spouse changes their will so their biological children receive everything, the family is likely to fracture.

Using a revocable living trust as the primary planning tool is a safer option. An experienced estate planning attorney can create the trust to allow full flexibility during the lifetime of both spouses.  Upon the first spouse’s death, part of the estate is still protected for the decedent’s intended beneficiaries.

This way, the surviving spouse has full use of marital assets but can only change beneficiaries for his or her portion of the estate, protecting both the surviving spouse and the decedent’s intended beneficiaries.

Another common mistake occurs when married couples execute their last will and testaments with different beneficiaries. For example, if they’ve named each other as the primary beneficiary, only the survivor will have property to leave to loved ones.

An alternative is to decide what the couple wants to happen to the estate as a whole, then include fractional shares to all beneficiaries, not just the one spouse’s beneficiaries. This protects everyone.

Many people assume that if they die without a will, their spouse will inherit everything. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and a local estate planning attorney will be able to explain how your state’s laws work when there is no will. Children or other family members are often entitled to a share of the estate. This may not be terrible if the family is close. However, if there are estranged relationships, it can lead to the wrong people inheriting more than you’d want.

Failing to plan in case an heir becomes disabled can cause life-altering problems. If an heir develops a disability and receives government benefits, an inheritance could make them ineligible. The problem is that we don’t know what state of health and abilities our heirs will be in when we die, and few will want their estate to be used to reimburse the state for the cost of care. A few extra provisions in a professionally prepared estate plan can result in significant savings for all concerned.

Estate planning is about more than signing off on a handful of documents. It requires thoughtful consideration of goals and potential consequences. Can every single outcome be anticipated? Not every single one, but certainly enough to be worth the effort. You can avoid unintended consequences with your planning by working with an experienced estate planning attorney. If you would like to learn more about mistakes in your estate planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: The News-Enterprise (March 25, 2023) “Advice for avoiding unintended issues in estate planning”

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Protecting Inheritances in a Blended Family

Protecting Inheritances in a Blended Family

Blended families have estate planning challenges differing from traditional families, explains a recent article from The Record Courier, “Estate Planning for Blended Families.” A blended family is one where one or both partners have children from a prior marriage. The details vary, but the concern is the same: the possibility for the children to be disinherited if after one spouse dies, the surviving spouse reduces or eliminates any provisions made for the deceased spouse’s children. Protecting inheritances in a blended family becomes a major priority.

A well-drafted estate plan, created by an experienced estate planning attorney, can address this issue to ensure that the deceased spouse’s children are protected and provided for after the death of their parent.

When creating the estate plan, consider what would happen if the surviving spouse remarried. This frames the drafting process in an optimal way for the children. Provisions should be made to protect them and a number of strategies may be used.

A simple last will and testament or even a revocable trust with no provisions typically won’t be enough to address the complex needs of a blended family. When the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse remains free to change the terms of their will, which could place the children of the deceased spouse at a disadvantage.

Designating an independent fiduciary can help ensure that the children of the deceased spouse have sufficient assets. The independent fiduciary can protect the children’s interests with no risk of self-dealing. An oversight by an independent fiduciary also minimizes the chances of conflict between children and stepparents.

A properly designed estate plan protects the children of both parents, regardless of which spouse dies first. One commonly-used strategy is to create a trust leaving the assets to the surviving spouse during the spouse’s lifetime but then passes the remaining assets to the children of the deceased spouse.

Another option is to divide the estate upon the death of the first spouse, with half the estate protected for the children of the deceased spouse. The surviving spouse has access to those assets for certain needs. However, limitations may be put into place. This is applicable if the two partners bring assets of equal size to the marriage.

In some cases, the strategy to ensure that children receive the assets intended for them upon their parent’s death is to leave them to the children outside of the trust, passing them directly by naming the children as designated beneficiaries on select accounts and/or life insurance policies.

If the children are minors, creating a separate trust may be an optimal means of protecting inheritances in a blended family.

A premarital or post-nuptial agreement is also used to clarify the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the marriage and can also be used to specify the children’s living situation and expenses and require assets to be used to maintain their standard of living.

With mindful and comprehensive estate planning, couples can leave a financial legacy for all of their children, while still providing for surviving spouses. If you would like to learn more about blended families, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: The Record Courier (March 12, 2023) “Estate Planning for Blended Families”

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Steps Seniors should take before Remarrying

Steps Seniors should take before Remarrying

Seniors in particular think about remarrying with an understandable degree of concern. Maybe your last relationship ended in a divorce, or there’ve been too many dating disasters. However, according to a recent article from MSN, “Planning to remarry after a divorce? 6 tips to protect your financial future,” there are some steps seniors should take before remarrying to make relationships easier to navigate and protect your financial future.

Not all of them are easy, but all are worthwhile.

No marrying without a prenup. Who wants to think about divorce when they’re head-over-heels in love and planning a wedding? No one. However, think of a prenup as about the start, not the end. It clarifies many issues: full financial clarity, financial expectations and clear details on what would happen in the worst case scenario. Getting all this out in the open before you say “I do” makes it much easier for the new couple to go forward.

Trust…but verify. Estate planning ensures that assets pass as you want. A revocable living trust set up during your lifetime can be used to ensure your assets pass to your offspring. Unlike a will, the provisions of a revocable trust are effective not just when you die but in the event of incapacity. A living trust can provide for the trust creator and their children during any period of incapacity prior to death. At death, the trust ensures that beneficiaries receive assets without going through probate.

Consider life insurance. Life insurance, possibly held in an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT), which allows proceeds to pass tax-free, can be used to provide funds for a surviving spouse or children from a prior marriage. Make sure to review all insurance policies, including life, property and casualty and umbrella insurance to be sure you have the correct coverage in place, insurance policies are titled correctly and premiums continue to be paid.

Estate planning. While you are planning to remarry is a good time to check on account titles, beneficiary designations and powers of attorney. Couples should review their estate plans to be sure planning reflects current wishes. Married couples have the benefit of the unlimited marital deduction, meaning they can gift during their lifetime or bequeath at death an unlimited amount of assets to their U.S. citizen surviving spouse without any gift or estate tax. For unmarried couples, different estate planning techniques need to be used to pass the maximum amount to partners tax free.

Check beneficiaries. After divorce and before a remarriage, check beneficiaries on 401(k)s, pensions, retirement accounts and life insurance policies, Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney documents. If you remarry, a prenup agreement or state law may require you to give some portion of your estate to your spouse, so have an estate planning attorney guide you through any changes. Couples should also check beneficiaries of life insurance and retirement plans.

Choose trustees wisely. Consider the advantages of a corporate trustee, who will be neutral and may prevent tensions with a newly blended family. If an outsider is named as an executor, or to act as a trustee, they may be able to minimize conflict. They’ll also have the professional knowledge and expertise with legal, tax and administrative complexities of administering estates and trusts.

These are just some of the major steps seniors should take before remarrying. Sit down and discuss the implications on you planning with your estate planning lawyer. If you would like to learn more about remarriage protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: MSN (Feb. 11, 2023) “Planning to remarry after a divorce? 6 tips to protect your financial future”

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Estate Planning is a Personal Process

Estate Planning is a Personal Process

It’s a question that some couples should ask. For many, their estate is their estate together, right? Not always. There are benefits to using the same estate planning attorney. However, there may be reasons to use different attorneys, as discussed in the article “Should My Spouse and I Hire the Same Estate Lawyer?” from The Street. When it comes down to it, estate planning is a personal process.

If your estates are relatively simple and your interests are the same, it does make sense to use the same estate planning attorney. If there’s no need for sophisticated tax planning, yours is a first marriage with no children, or you own one piece of property, one attorney can represent both partners.

It’s important to understand joint representation. This means both partners and the attorney agree to share all information learned from one spouse with the other spouse. These terms are often outlined in the engagement letter signed when the attorney is retained.

However, life and marriages are not always so simple. Let’s say that one spouse owns property or a share of property in another state purchased before the marriage and not co-owned with the spouse. This often occurs when property is owned by members of the spouse’s immediate family, like a business property or a vacation home they own jointly with siblings or parents. It may also be property one spouse is likely to inherit with the expectation the property ownership remains solely with bloodline family members.

Note that owning property in another state will likely also require the services of another estate planning attorney who is familiar with the local laws. The out-of-state attorney can advise if there are any special planning considerations needed, such as placing property in a family-controlled entity, like a limited liability company or other family partnership.

Coordinating communication between the out-of-state attorney and the primary in-state attorney will be important, since there may be interrelated planning considerations to be addressed in wills or trusts.

What if you and your spouse have different communication styles? One wants a talkative attorney who wants to dive into long-term planning goals, engaging in discussions about building a legacy, while the other wants documents prepared, signed and executed, minus any big picture conversations.

A simple solution would be for each spouse to identify an attorney at the same firm who matches their personal style.

Another reason for using different estate planning attorneys is if one wants to use a “floating spouse” provision, which can cause some feelings to arise. This is a provision defining a “spouse” as the person you are married to at the time of death. If there’s a divorce and the prior spouse would have had a vested interest in property, the floating spouse provision affords another layer of protection to keep assets to the spouse at the time of death.

There are non-divorce related reasons for the floating spouse provision. If an irrevocable trust is created to benefit the spouse, the ability to make changes to the trust can be challenging, time consuming and costly. With a floating spouse provision, the prior spouse is removed as a beneficiary and the new spouse could be easily substituted. In this case, independent counsel is advised, as interests are considered legally adverse.

Estate planning is a personal process and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If any part of the estate creates adverse interests, joint representation may not work. However, when the estate is relatively simple and the couple’s goals are the same, having a spouse by your side during the planning process could give each of you the incentive to take care of this very important task. If you would like to learn more about estate planning, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: The Street (Nov. 30, 2022) “Should My Spouse and I Hire the Same Estate Lawyer?”

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Prenup is a Useful Tool in Estate Planning

Prenup is a Useful Tool in Estate Planning

A Prenup is a useful tool in your estate planning. Forbes’ recent article entitled “Prenuptial Agreement: What Is A Prenup & How Do I Get One?” explains that a prenup contemplates the end of the marriage, so the couple can divide assets with an objective mindset. A prenup can even help protect a business.

Prenups allow you to determine if alimony will be due if the marriage ends, as well as the amount and terms of those payments. A prenup can also say what kind of bequests you leave to each other in your will. It can also be good for couples trying to keep separate significant pieces of personal property, including future inheritances and other anticipated income. This is common for couples with a significant age or wealth difference and among older or remarrying couples.

Prenups Aren’t Just for the Very Wealthy. A Prenup can be a useful tool for almost everyone’s estate planning.

Protect Family Heirlooms. If you have a family heirloom and want to make sure that if your marriage ends, you’ll get to keep it, you can draft a prenuptial agreement that states the family heirloom is yours.

Pass Property to Children from Prior Marriages. A prenup can be used to establish property rights for second marriages. If you have children from a previous marriage, you can protect their interests in your assets and property.

Clarify Financial Rights. Prenups can help you decide now how assets will be split up instead of waiting until divorce proceedings. While divorce may never come, determining the financial distribution now saves time and headache.

Debt Protection. Prenups also provide debt protection. Some people enter a marriage with substantial financial debts or student loan debt. For couples in this situation, they can sign a prenup and clarify that those debts remain the separate responsibility of the spouse who incurred them. They can also decide how debts incurred during the marriage will be handled.

Avoid Emotional Arguments. The end of a marriage and divorce is emotional. It can be an overwhelming and upsetting process. When you’re negotiating with your spouse about assets, tempers can cloud your judgment about asset distribution. Contemplating these items with a clearer head is better for all.

Take time to consider how you want to craft a prenup. It can have a significant impact on your assets and your goals for your heirs. If you would like to read more about prenups and other forms of asset protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Forbes (Oct. 24, 2022) “Prenuptial Agreement: What Is A Prenup & How Do I Get One?”

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Information in our blogs is very general in nature and should not be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Please feel free to contact Texas Trust Law to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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