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Estate planning and later marriages

Increasingly, throughout California and the rest of the country, people over the age of 65 are getting married. This can lead to complications in estate planning particularly for those who have been married before and have children from a previous relationship.

Individuals who marry later in life need to look at their wills as well as considering a prenuptial agreement. New wills must be made because a marriage cancels any existing wills. Many older individuals with children who marry want to make sure that both their spouses and children benefit from their estate. They may choose to make arrangements in their will for a trust that allows their assets to pass to a surviving spouse as long as that spouse is alive and then to their children.

If either individual has lost a spouse, that person may have inherited their estate. In such a case, there may be an unused inheritance tax allowance. This and other aspects of tax liabilities should be kept in mind to minimize those liabilities. Lifetime gifts for their children may be one way of doing this.

In addition to considering their wills and how assets will be protected and passed on to heirs, couples may wish to draw up a prenuptial agreement to protect the assets that they bring into the marriage in case of divorce. Individuals should keep in mind that a prenuptial agreement may not be legally binding, but there are ways to ensure that it has a better chance of being honored in court. For example, the agreement should be drawn up at least a month before the wedding. This helps to ensure that the individuals were not rushed or coerced. It is also important that each had access to an attorney to discuss the terms of the agreement in advance.

Source:, "Estate planning tips for newlywed pensioners", Mark Politz, June 26, 2014

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