How much do you want to leave to your replacement?

While many women who become widows never remarry, most men who become widowers marry within two years. That’s why one prominent estate planner asks prospective married clients (particularly the wife) how much they want to leave to their replacement. Without careful planning, your assets and possessions may ultimately be left to your replacement, and then eventually to the replacement’s family. The replacement spouse has no legal obligation to support or provide an inheritance for your beneficiaries.

True story—a young married woman passes away while her children are youngsters. Because the deceased wife and her husband never had careful planning, upon the woman’s death, everything was left to her husband. A few years later, the husband remarried. Once the children were adults and established, the husband executed a will leaving everything to his new surviving spouse. When he died, the surviving spouse received everything. The children had no rights to anything from their parents, even the assets and belongings that originally belonged to their mother. Now, the adult children have little confidence the new surviving spouse will leave them anything that previously belonged to their parents. Because the mother did not have a plan that included beneficiary protection, she essentially (but unknowingly) disinherited her children.

Most people would like to know that any assets and personals they leave will at some point, be passed on to their beneficiaries (usually the children). Failing to plan, or simply executing a will, will not protect your beneficiaries from your spouse’s possible remarriage after your death. Unfortunately, not all trusts include this protection either.

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