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