Will for couples in their second marriage.

I am sure that this topic has been addressed although I cannot find any information on it. My question concerns creating a will for my wife and I.  We have been married for twenty plus years, this is the second marriage for both of us. We both have children from our first marriages and none between us. We would like to have a will but cannot come up with a method moving forward for equity for the children. The main question that keeps coming up is if one passes before the other how to deal with finances. Property is not an issue, just funding.  I was just wondering how others have dealt with this.

Regular Social Butterfly

"property is not an issue, just funding???"

Check out the provisions of your state for a surviving spouse.  In some states, your wife might be entitled to a percentage or a fixed amount of your estate. Normally, this provision favors females.  Have seen where wife gets first $150k.  If that is the provision in your state and your investments, deposits, etc are less there is NOTHING to divide among children.  

While I must believe this subject has been widely addressed in estate planning, key is a meeting of the minds with ALL involved. What does each expect?  If there is agreement that each child reaps the benefits of their parent's IRA, investments, deposits it is possible to use your state's statutory titling to accomplish same.  Using Joint accounts, most often is interpreted to mean balance on death passes to the survivor but verify with each institution how remainder is handled on death.   Such titling could conflict with a will and would trump will expectations.

DPOAs enable transacting business without conveying ownership interest.

If IRAs show beneficiary to one's children your spouse needs to sign off to that understanding, acceptance.  As to other investments, deposits a common statutory title would be POD, ie Payable on Death.  In short, the account is titled as individual ownership with understanding on your death when the children present a death certificate the balance is distributed according to account title. 

From experience can say when one dies it is NOT uncommon for children or spouse to GRAB all they can, so written understandings are important.

Of course, for most RE is a major consideration and one might expect, depending how deed is titled, ie single or joint owner.  One might expect you each make provisions that RE is not distributed til death of BOTH, where the marriage survivor is NOT ousted from their home. 

Do not underestimate children.  It is not uncommon for surviving children on the death of their parent to GRAB all they can that is NOT protected, reserved for the marital survivor.  it is a good idea to have everything spelled out in print and signed off on, ie certain collector type items that certain children have been promised.  Don't ever leave it to them to divide fairly or follow your conveyed verbal wishes. 

There are lots of potential problems.  Most do NOT want to create family fights, contentions, grabbing, etc so if everyone is on the SAME PAGE it just makes for a smoother transition.

Your first consideration should be to protect the interests of your surviving spouse, not your heirs.    

Bronze Conversationalist

What does RE stand for?

What is DPOA?


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Regular Social Butterfly

RE = Real Estate

DPOA - Durable Power of Attorney, empowering one in an agency capacity to manage one's finances. 

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Thank you so much for your detailed response. We have see what you said about people not realizing what greed their children are capable of. Our intention is that all properties and money (bank accounts and investment) would go to the surviving partner. We have already identified and understand certain items that are heirlooms to our respective families. Our intention that those items that have not been "distributed" prior to ones passing would be then given to the children at that time. Where we seem to have a problem is with the money left to the surviving spouse and how to make sure any distributions will be fair after the death of one of us. Is there a way of guaranteeing an equitable division of assets while assuring that the surviving spouse maintains their comfortable lifestyle. It is very tricky. 

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Regular Social Butterfly

Suspect you want to contact a local attorney.  Nothing is ever simple. Life is a lot easier when ALL heirs are in agreement and the will is binding on all.  Multiple marriages with children can get complicated as it is not uncommon siblings even fight over assets, how to estate should be settled, etc.      

Providing for the surviving spouse is customary.   Contingencies can get complicated, ie divorce or lawsuit involving an heir, access to safe deposit box, keys / access to residence etc so there is a race to loot your home of known valuables, jewelry, collectibles, need for nursing care, etc..  Be as specific as possible as to your intentions, ie even photos of specific collectibles, heirlooms, etc with heir listed, etc.  

People behave much differently AFTER a death.  Have seen the survivor craft a new will leaving everything to their own children.

All this presumes a good clean death. Life gets complicated when one needs support, ie assisted living, nursing care and Medicaid gets involved. All the rules can vary by state. 

As I started it is worth exploring your options, your concerns with a professional.  Check with your local AARP, Senior group for estate planning counsel.     

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