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Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer’s Advice for Second (or Third) Marriages

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Estate planning lawyers in Atlanta work with clients at all different stages of life.  For example, many couples realize the importance of meeting with an estate planning lawyer before getting married.  While things are rarely straight forward (every situation is unique, after all), they can get pretty complicated in cases where one or both of the parties involved has been married before.

Who Owns What

When you enter a second or subsequent marriage, you’re likely bringing quite a bit of “stuff” with you.  You probably have various accounts that are all in different names: his, hers, and theirs.  The same is true of assets.  And then there are kids to consider.  Some accounts and assets might have the children’s names on them, too.

Creating an estate plan is an excellent idea in these situations.  For one thing, it helps untangle some of the confusion over who has access to what.  Not only that, but just because you intend for certain assets to go to your children, without an estate plan directing what will happen, the courts will have to make decisions based on the law, not on your intentions.

Updating Beneficiaries

In reviewing your assets with the Atlanta estate planning lawyer, you’ll want to take a look at all of your (and your spouse’s) various accounts to make sure they have the correct beneficiary designations.  Keep in mind that you very likely might have your ex-spouse named as a beneficiary on any variety of accounts.  Chances are, you’ll want to make some changes.

Develop a Strategy and Avoid the Pitfalls of Not Planning

The estate planning lawyer will be able to go through, item by item, to help you determine the best approach to distributing your estate according to your wishes.  This might involve creating a simple will that names your spouse as the primary recipient of your assets, with a certain percentage going to your children.  On the other hand, you and your spouse may prefer to actually set up completely separate trusts that reserve your pre-marriage property for only your own biological children.

An important thing to note is that if you pass away without a legally binding estate plan, your assets could be given directly to your new spouse.  Upon his or her death without a will, those assets—the ones that were originally yours—would be inherited by the spouse’s children, not yours.  This is a pretty big deal and is something that is better addressed between you and a Georgia estate planning lawyer than between bickering, resentful step-siblings later.

Can Your Children’s Spouses Inherit from You? | Marietta GA Will and Trust Lawyer

mother daughter troubled marriageWill and trust lawyers in Marietta see plenty of situations where parents who love their children are not entirely in love with their children’s spouses.  This can make the estate planning process a little tricky, because the spouse can add tension and stir up drama that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.  While some people include their sons-and-daughters-in-law in the planning process, it’s not all that unusual to leave them out.

For the most part, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law isn’t even mentioned in the will.  They don’t really even have any legal standing to inherit from the parent unless they are specifically named.  So, the parent would name his or her own child, but not the child’s spouse.  If the adult child was no longer living, the property would probably end up being inherited by the grandchildren, rather than the spouse.

That’s not to say that a child’s spouse couldn’t end up with an inheritance.  If the parents were to leave assets to the adult child and then the adult child passed away, his or her property would likely go to the spouse, and that includes what was inherited from the parents.  One would hope that this property would eventually be passed on to the grandchildren (assuming there are grandchildren), but this is not a given, as the spouse would have the legal right to do whatever he or she wanted with it.  In fact, if the spouse remarried, his or her new spouse would be the legal choice to inherit any property that was left behind, including that which was inherited this way.

So, can a Marietta will and trust lawyer keep your child’s spouse out of your plan entirely?  Yes!  You can work with your attorney to develop an inheritance trust that will protect any money you leave your kids from divorce, lawsuits, and creditors and keeps your money in the family.

Creating an estate plan can be emotional and having the additional drama of a difficult personality certainly won’t help matters any.  On the other hand, you may absolutely adore your son-or-daughter-in-law and want to make sure that they are taken care of by your estate.  In those cases, you will want to make sure that your Marietta GA estate planning lawyer specifically mentions them and what they are inheriting for your own peace of mind.

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