An Estate Plan Can Help “Keep the Peace” When Parents Remarry

Nothing, it seems, has the potential to cause a fight over inheritance quite like a second marriage. The Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine, in an article entitled Before Your Parents Say ‘I Do’ Again says that poor estate planning (or even worse, no estate planning) can cause terrible damage to family relationships:

“As Americans live longer, they’re more likely to move into second marriages, and legal experts and financial planners say the resulting friction with the kids is steadily mounting. In more cases grown children are going to court against their parents even while they’re still alive, only to run up against a legal framework that leaves them with surprisingly few rights compared with their parents’ new spouses.”

How can you avoid family friction — not to mention legal battles — if you choose to remarry? According to the article, there are a number of ways: open communication, careful estate planning, the use of prenuptial agreements, or even skipping the marriage ceremony altogether.

Not all methods are right for all families, but everybody can agree that it pays to think ahead, which is why the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney before the wedding ceremony is crucial. After all, according to one attorney quoted in the article, “People get over the loss of a loved one sooner than the loss of an inheritance”.