For a second or third marriage, make estate planning part of wedding planning
When daily discussions revolve around flowers, music and cake, it may seem unromantic to bring up estate planning. But if you consider renewed estate planning as a way for you and your future spouse to bring old estate plans into harmony with your new hopes for your future family, it can seem a lot more pleasant -- and a lot more important.
Engaged couples often choose to review an estate plan when children are involved. There may be children on one or both sides, and there may be future children planned or on the way. Depending on the assets involved, there are a number of ways an estate planning attorney can revise old trusts or set up new ones to help both parties rest assured that all children and the surviving spouse will be cared for under the estate.
In light of a new marriage, spouses may also wish to review estate plans to consider real estate. One spouse may wish to leave a previously held property to his or her children from a prior relationship. However, that person would want his or her surviving spouse to be able to live in it until the surviving spouse’s death. In this case, there are multiple options, each with benefits and drawbacks. The couple should review them with an estate planning attorney.
Second or third marriages also bring up tax issues. Previous or deceased spouses may affect a person's gift tax exclusions or other estate tax exemptions, and the rules can be complicated. It is important to make future plans in full knowledge of future tax consequences.
Finally, and most pragmatically, all engaged couples should review power of attorney documents and advance health care directives to ensure that all documents are up to date.