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New marriage ignites complex issues of estate planning strategy

Getting married for a second or third time complicates the estate planning picture for a person living in Texas, and all other states for that matter, by raising new issues and questions to resolve. For one thing, it adds to the potential number of heirs that one may want to provide for after death. The assets may have to be spread thinner or other investment vehicles may be needed to take care of every one's needs. Estate planning in this situation starts with taking stock of one's assets.

It should first be pointed out that with each subsequent marriage the estate planning task becomes considerably more complicated. Going over the total picture with an estate planning attorney will bring the best results in terms of efficiency, accuracy and economy in planning. Generally, one of the first things one does is to make a list of all assets. The spouse should do this also. If there is a prenuptial binding the couple, then some issues may already be settled through prior discussions and agreements. 

Generally, there is a juggling act that the individual must make so that all heirs are favored in the order and amount desired. It may be that new insurance or annuities have to be put into effect to bring about the new results desired. These options or the institution of a trust instrument are good ways to take care of children from a previous marriage.

It's not always wise to simply trust the current immediate family to be fair and forthright with one's prior children and others who are just as important to the testator. Another pitfall to avoid is to update all beneficiary designations, especially when some change such as a new marriage occurs. Make sure that all beneficiaries currently in place are the ones intended to receive the particular asset. Again, one is best advised to consult with an estate planning attorney experienced with Texas law and procedure, and a financial planning expert if necessary, in order to make sure that a complex planning task does not end up taking a toll in costly mistakes or errors.

Source: meridianstar.com, "Estate planning after a second marriage", Gerry Mitchell, Sept. 27, 2015

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