Many families today come together via remarriages. A second or subsequent marriage offers people the opportunity to start fresh and enjoy the benefits of a positive partnership after a previous divorce or loss of a spouse. These marriages, however, also raise unique issues and questions when it comes to each spouse’s estate planning choices. 

Fidelity Investments recommends that both parties in a relationship eyeing a remarriage should engage in open and honest discussions about their assets, their debts and their wishes for their existing family members after they die. The sooner these conversations can get started, the better for everyone in the long run. Ideally, couples should decide what assets they may keep separate and what assets they will combine before they get married. These decisions should be clearly documented as they will contribute to their ultimate estate plan. 

Forbes explains that a will alone may not be sufficient in creating a solid estate plan for a remarried couple, especially if one or both spouses have children from their prior relationships. Fortunately, there are special types of trusts that they may utilize to appropriately bequeath assets to their surviving spouse and to their children. If a surviving spouse inherits everything via a will or even if a person dies intestate and no other provisions have been legally dictated, there is nothing requiring the surviving spouse to share anything with the deceased spouse’s children. 

Great care should be taken in the selection of a trustee as this person may not only need to manage often complex financial matters but also family conflicts.