5 Unexpected Problems upon Death of Remarried Spouse
Remarriage presents certain issues and challenges at the beginning of a second marriage and the death of some remarried spouses have experienced the following 5 unexpected problems:
1. The relationship between the surviving spouse as step-parent and the deceased spouse's biological children might easily disintegrate due to conflict or simply lack of communication;
2. Circumstances might change with the passage of time;
a. Declining health of the surviving spouse and high medical and long term care costs
b. The surviving spouse’s assets are lost to economic downturn, creditors, or predators/identity thieves
3. The surviving spouse might remarry and wish to provide for his or her replacement spouse;
a. What are the chances that a happily married man will be remarried within three years of his wife’s death?
b. What are the chances that a happily married woman will be remarried within three years of her husband’s death?
4. The surviving spouse might make lifetime gifts, which excludes the deceased spouse's biological children; and
5. The surviving spouse’s biological children might influence him or her to disinherit the deceased spouse's biological children.
Beware of the dangers that lurk behind you and your 2nd spouse’s wishful thinking. Have you heard the following excuses?
- “I would never disinherit my step-children. I'm a man/woman of my word.”
- “My children love their step-parent. They will love and respect their step-parent after I die.”
- “All I need is a simple Will because there won't ever be any conflict.”
Have you ever heard of the Brady Bunch?
40% of married couples with children (i.e., families) in the US are stepcouples (at least one partner had a child from a previous relationship before marriage (Karney, Garvan, & Thomas, 2003) http://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics
Usually my clients tell me that they want their surviving spouse to inherit all of the deceased spouse's money and property to make sure that the survivor can maintain his or her standard of living. These clients also tell me that they want their children to have whatever is left after the surviving spouse dies.
Consider using a marital trust to prevent accidental disinheritance. Accidental disinheritance might occur if the following happen:
- If the surviving spouse remarries; or
- If the surviving spouse amends or revises his or her own
estate plan following the death of the first spouse and the surviving spouse
names his or her own children as joint owners on the money accounts and the
Leaving your surviving spouse's inheritance in a marital trust will allow your surviving spouse to benefit from the income during his or her life, and make sure that the spouse to die first leaves an inheritance for his or her children.