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Second marriage prompts estate planning changes

10/8/2015 | Kaplin Stewart Blog

When entering into a second or subsequent marriage, Pennsylvania residents are often overwhelmed with gratitude at having another chance at love. In the fog of this gratitude, however, lurks the risk of making significant financial mistakes. Estate planning is an area in which many spouses fail to make changes or adjustments as they tie the knot a second time.

The extent of the estate planning that many spouses undergo is to leave everything to each other, with the understanding that the surviving spouse will pass down wealth to the children of both parties. The flaw in this plan is that it fails to recognize the fact that people move on after the loss of a spouse. For many, this means moving on to a new spouse and perhaps even additional children.

At that point, the surviving spouse will take on an entirely new set of priorities, which is perfectly normal. Those priorities may not include providing financial support to their stepchildren from a previous marriage. In this way, one’s adult children can be essentially cut off from their intended inheritance.   

The best way to safeguard against this outcome is to structure a trust to pass down wealth to one’s children. A trust can be created that will provide financial support to a surviving spouse, while ensuring that remaining wealth is passed down to adult children and grandchildren. In this estate planning approach, Pennsylvania residents can ensure that their intentions are followed through on, no matter what the future might hold.

Source:, “Estate planning after a second marriage“, Gerry Mitchell, Sept. 27, 2015