Estate Planning for Second Marriages in Orange County CA

A bride and groom sign papers

Whether you are planning a second marriage or are already happily married for the second time, OC Wills and Trusts is an Orange County estate planning law firm that can develop an estate plan that addresses your new marriage while still protecting the children from your prior marriage.

As you plan your estate, you need to turn to a team with experience and creativity to craft a custom solution that carries out your final wishes, and OC Wills and Trusts is that team. We have helped clients plan their estates since 2008, so contact us today to discuss your wishes so we can help develop a plan that makes them a reality.

Complications in Your Estate Plan Created by a Second Marriage

A second marriage can complicate your plan for the disposition of your estate in a few ways: For one, you might want to handle property acquired before the marriage differently from that which you’ve acquired afterward. Your estate plan will, therefore, need to identify the property that belongs in each set and provide instructions for their dispositions.

Second, you might have new parties to include, such as:

  • Your new spouse
  • The children of the second marriage
  • Stepchildren

Finally, you will need to review any devises of property to your ex-spouse and former stepchildren and update your prior plan accordingly; in some situations, you may want to keep those instructions in place, but you should avoid inadvertently leaving property to those you no longer wish to.

Elements of an Estate Plan

You ensure your estate gets distributed according to your wishes by developing an estate plan, which could include the following:

  • A Will: Describes legally enforceable conveyances of your property that take effect upon your death
  • A Trust: Trusts are legal entities that hold property; a trustee will manage the trust for its beneficiaries.
  • Powers of Attorney: Grants someone decision-making powers; these can take effect immediately, upon a certain event, or when you become incapacitated and will usually include a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.

California law handles estates in two ways: If you have an estate plan, your executor and the probate court will execute the plan to carry out your instructions. If you do not have an estate plan, the court will appoint a personal representative to disperse your assets to your legal heirs according to the state’s intestate succession laws.

If you die without an estate plan, your control of the disposition of your estate is passed onto the probate court.

Estate Planning Steps to Take With a Second Marriage

Every estate plan is unique, as they reflect individuals’ families, property, and wishes. You can structure your estate almost any way you want, with California law placing only a few restrictions on what you can do.

With that said, a second marriage is a perfect time to revise your prior estate plan or create a new one, and the attorneys at OC Wills and Trusts have extensive experience helping people in all circumstances plan for their family’s future. 

Some ways we can help with estate planning for second marriages include:

Reviewing Your Estate Plan

In most cases, people will revise their wills and trusts upon divorce to adjust any instructions that apply to their ex-spouse; when you remarry, you should once again revisit your estate plan to determine whether anything needs updating. 

Your review should include the parts of an estate plan that often go overlooked, such as:

Ensure that each of these aspects of your estate still reflects your wishes.

Updating Your Will and Trust

You may need to update your will and trust to reflect any newly-acquired property and new instructions for your previously-acquired property. You will also need to add devisees and beneficiaries, such as your new spouse and stepchildren, to your plan.

Furthermore, you may also need to answer some difficult questions, including:

  • Should you leave any property to your ex-spouse or former stepchildren?
  • Should you treat your children differently based on the marriage they came from?
  • Should you include new stepchildren in your estate plan?
  • Do you trust your new spouse to preserve property for all your children?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; instead, you need to work with an estate planning lawyer to create a workable solution based on your answers. 

For example, a qualified terminable interest (QTIP) trust allows your new spouse to use trust assets during their lifetime but preserves them for final disposition to someone else, like your children, upon their death.

Discuss Your New Spouse’s Estate Plan

Estate planning is not a one-way street; in a second marriage, your new spouse will probably have property and wishes for the disposition of it. A lawyer can discuss how to dispose of that property in a joint or separate plan.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney About Your New Estate Plan Today

The team at OC Wills and Trusts has the experience and creativity to craft an estate plan for your unique situation. Contact us to discuss your wishes for your estate and how we can help you put them in place.