Finance and Remarriage

As a professional financial advisor, many times I have been asked to evaluate, or even suggest the best ways for people to plan for their estate and financial futures when they are to get married their second or even third time. It’s not as easy as one can imagine.

There are many things to consider from pre-nuptial agreements to restructuring of trusts, changing of wills, and most importantly, possible changes to retirement plan and life insurance beneficiary designations. With this much complexity it can certainly take the fun out of planning a life together! Regardless of the emotional aspects, couples should definitely visit with a professional Financial Advisor/Estate Planner. We can evaluate the entire situation, review current wills and trusts, provide financial analysis, and most importantly help the couple to communicate precisely how everything should flow. Maybe you’ll need a “His”, “Hers”, and “Ours” trust arrangement. Possibly the existing life insurance should be rearranged from an ownership standpoint. Retirement plans should also be analyzed as to beneficiary arrangements– maybe the children, maybe the trust- it all depends on the plan you want to create. Community property law also adds a twist to the situation as well.

The best plans stem from the alignment of both individual’s goals. You should have a definite financial and investment strategy, certainly an income and estate tax planning strategy, and most importantly a legal strategy that you both thoroughly understand. Discussing, planning, and consolidating these thoughts and plans will assure your success and ensure the likeliness of a “problem-free” administration of your estate when the inevitable occurs. Keep two things in mind. One, how are things going to flow if one of you becomes incapacitated, and two, how do things flow when one of you passes away? Will it be easy for the remaining spouse to administer things or will it be a nightmare? This will all be up to how you have designed your plan.

Though decision-making in marriage is not always an easy road, the right professional Financial Advisor/Estate Planner can truly help you discover the best ways to address your ideal situation if you’re willing to communicate and open your mind to investment, tax, and legal strategies you may not have taken into consideration before. Once you and your partner realize and have an understanding of all the creative options available to you financially, the more inclined you will be to work toward avoiding certain pitfalls and pursuing the “happily ever after” you both deserve.

John M. Cartolano