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Spousal Remarriage: What will happen to your kids?

Even if you are currently married to the father of your children, it is important to think about what would happen to your children if you predecease your spouse.

Second marriages can create inherent conflicts.  Sometimes there’s a tension between supporting the surviving spouse and assuring that the children from the first spouse will receive an inheritance.

I have spoken to many wives who are concerned that, after they pass on, their husbands may remarry. They tell me that the idea of a surviving spouse leaving wealth to their new wife (or stepchildren) is troubling. This is a serious issue because statistically, widowers are significantly more likely than widows to remarry.

 If the surviving husband receives wealth from the predeceased wife in trust (rather than outright), the trust can provide safeguards and some assurances to the predeceased wife.  Specifically, the wife can be assured that her children may ultimately receive an inheritance.

Retirement Accounts

This issue is especially challenging with retirement accounts.  What happens if a husband leaves his retirement accounts to his second wife?  Then she inherits the accounts outright. She can then leave them to her own children or to a favorite charity when she passes on.  

Trusteed IRA

Many husbands who get remarried believe that their new wife will take care of his children and leave the decision of where the money to his surviving wife. They hope that the wealth will ultimately find its way, at least in part, back to his children.  I suggest a more thorough alternative, the  “trusteed IRA.” 

The trusteed IRA will allow the husband to benefit his surviving spouse and have some assurance that his children will inherit whatever may remain of the retirement assets.  Note: that the trusteed IRA is particularly complicated to draft and is no guarantee that the children will ultimately receive an inheritance.

If you would like to discuss how your current will or trust addresses the issue of remarriage, click here to contact my office. We proudly serve Philadelphia, the Main Line, MontgomeryCounty, Chester County, Delaware County and Bucks County as well as southern New Jersey.