What Happens If My Spouse Remarries After I Die?

What happens to my share of the Estate if my spouse remarries? This is a common concern for married couples with joint properties and assets. 

Generally, in a revocable living trust for a married couple, the surviving spouse gets 100% of the estate assets, and they can do with the assets as they see fit as it is completely theirs now. If they do not remarry, the estate will pass on to their children upon their passing. If they do remarry, there is a chance that the surviving spouse will create a new revocable trust with their new spouse, and the deceased person’s estate will be a part of the new trust, thus superseding the existing trust. 

There are ways to help protect the deceased spouse’s assets, however. One option is to have a distribution after the first spouse’s death. That way, the deceased spouse will have allocated his/her part of the estate to the people he/she wants it to go to, and the surviving spouse will still have their share of the estate to live on. There are consequences to this option as well, since the surviving spouse will no longer have access to those funds if they need it for long term care or living in the residence that needs to be sold in order to distribute.

Another option is to create an A/B Trust. After the first spouse passes, the trust splits into 2 trusts [A Trust and B Trust]. The A Trust will be the surviving spouse’s trust, and the B trust will be held in Trust [the surviving spouse will have access to this Trust once he/she depletes his/her own Trust for the health, care, education, etc of that spouse]. Once the surviving spouse dies, whatever is left in the B Trust will be distributed as per the Trust guidelines. 


Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.