When spouses divorce, there are often children left from first marriage. When one of the spouses remarries, he should be very careful that the children from the first marriage do not get disinherited.

The second spouse, who is often much younger and less financially secure, may exert pressure on her husband to provide for her in the event of his death.  The second spouse may have new children, whom the father sees on a daily basis. Simultaneously, the remarried husband may not see the children from first marriage as often (due to geography or ill-feelings from both sides).  The end result is that children from first marriage get upset and are likely to get disinherited.

Furthermore, people may not realize about the implications of certain property ownership and may disinherit their children inadvertently. A spouse may be added as a joint account holder on a bank account only for convenience, yet after death – she will inherit the entire amount. When spouses buy properties together during marriage – the surviving spouse will inherit the entire property after the death of the first to die spouse. Both of these types of ownership result in the surviving spouse receiving the entire amount of the asset while the children receive nothing.

Finally, some attorneys don’t ask the right questions. When spouses come to do estate planning, some attorneys (especially those who do not specialize in the area), may not think to ask about children from prior marriages or relationships. As a result, a standard will of “everything to spouse, then to her children” may get signed, even though it may be completely inappropriate in a given situation.

When getting married for the second (or third time), you should think about a prenuptial agreement, plan and review your documents carefully, and attempt to maintain good relationships with all relatives. Happy Holidays!

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship.