Elder Law 101

Getting Married Again Consider Creating an Estate Plan Now

Remarriage after the end of a previous marriage due to divorce or the death of a spouse is common. Unlike first marriages that typically occur in the middle to late 20s, people getting married a second or subsequent time may be well into middle age. Whether they have children from previous relationships or not, older spouses bring special financial considerations into the new marriage.

Making an Estate Plan Now Can Save Legal Hassles Later

Perhaps you or your future spouse created separate estate plans earlier in life and want to update them to reflect your new marriage. Another possibility is that neither of you have created an estate plan. Whatever your individual situation, entering a second marriage brings up several unique considerations. Examples include:

  • What assets do each of you plan to continue holding individually?
  • What assets do each of you plan to leave to your respective children, if any?
  • Do you plan to have children together? If so, what assets would you like to make available for them?
  • Are either of you bringing individual debt into the marriage?
  • Do you expect to incur new joint debts after the marriage?
  • Will you need to order a new title for any assets you would like to reflect joint ownership, such as checking, savings, retirement, or mortgage accounts?
  • Do you plan to establish a joint will?
  • Do you foresee needing any additional estate planning tools, like a power of attorney, trust, or advanced healthcare directive?

Ideally, you and your fiancée will discuss these questions long before you get married. Neither of you should assume what the other is thinking when it comes to something as important as finances. Couples with substantial individual assets before a second marriage may want to give serious thought to a pre-nuptial agreement. Although it might not sound romantic, taking this step helps to protect individual financial interests.

Special Estate Considerations When Either of You Has Children

Couples often discover how differently each one thinks about certain financial matters when it comes to leaving an inheritance for children. One common example is that one spouse wants to divide their individual assets among their own children while the other would like to divide them equally between children and stepchildren. You also need to consider who would take control of assets on behalf of either party’s minor children should one of you pass away prematurely.

If you already have a will that leaves certain provisions for your children, consider how this decision would impact your new spouse. Some couples resolve this issue by establishing a separate marital trust to make sure the surviving spouse receives assets the other spouse wanted them to have.

Don’t Forget to Update Beneficiary Designations

If you already own assets such as a 401(k) and want to replace the beneficiary with your new spouse, be sure to do this as soon after your marriage as possible. You will need a copy of your marriage license to make the changes.

Beasley & Ferber Law Firm is here to assist you with estate planning. Please request a consultation to discuss your needs.

Raising a special-needs child comes with numerous extra commitments, such as frequent doctor appointments, IEP meetings at school, and physical or speech therapy, to name just a few. For some parents, caring for their child’s basic needs is already a full-time job. They become so focused on the present that they put off dealing with future decisions regarding their special-needs child. While this is understandable, it can put your family in a difficult position both legally and emotionally.

The Importance of Naming a Guardian for Your Special Needs Child

No one knows how to advocate and care for your child like you do. This is something you instinctively know, and you work hard every day because you understand how much your child needs you.

Considering who would care for your special needs child if you or your spouse passed away or became disabled yourself is uncomfortable. Even so, we urge you to think about this question and name a legal guardian in writing. Should the worst come to pass, the fact that you named a legal guardian earlier will mean less disruption for your special-needs child during an already difficult and stressful time. The guardian should be someone both you and your child know and trust.

Becoming Your Child’s Legal Guardian After Age 18

If your child has a developmental or cognitive disability, there is a good chance he or she will not be able to make important decisions independently, regardless of chronological age. By appointing yourself a legal guardian, you can continue to make medical, legal, and financial decisions for your child just as you did while he or she was a minor.

Many parents of special needs children also worry that others would take advantage of their disability once they are no longer around to protect them. Appointing a guardian over a disabled adult child can help to reduce these fears.

How to Set Up a Supplemental Needs Trust for a Disabled Child

This tool ensures that your child has enough financial resources to meet future expenses without losing eligibility for federal or state assistance programs. We have seen many well-meaning parents leave most of their estate to a special-needs child only for their son or daughter to lose social security benefits. A better idea is to establish a trust for your child without putting assets in his or her name.

When you establish a supplemental trust, you choose a trustee to administer it who must follow state guidelines and the requirements you stipulated. The benefit of this arrangement is that it provides for future expenses while keeping your child’s social security and Medicaid benefits intact.

Contact Our Experienced Elder and Disability Law Firm to Learn More

Naming a guardian, becoming your disabled child’s legal guardian in adulthood, and setting up a special trust all require experienced legal guidance to do correctly. We invite you to request a consultation from Beasley & Ferber Law Firm to learn more about each of these processes.


Estate Planning for the
Informed Consumer


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