Before You Take the Plunge: Planning for a Second Marriage or Marriage Later in Life

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A second marriage or a marriage later in life may have less of the traditional planning headaches of marriage in your youth. You probably care less about the dress, the cake and the venue and more about what this will mean for your finances and your children and grandchildren. Although it may not be romantic, proper planning before marriage can save you and your family a great deal of trouble and heartache in the event of divorce or death of you or a spouse.

Prenuptial Agreements

Whether you are on equal footing financially or one partner is significantly better off than the other, a prenuptial agreement, also known as an antenuptial agreement, is key to setting out three important items.

  • What will happen to the property that you bring into the marriage, also known as your separate property, in the event of divorce or death?
  • What will happen to the property you acquire during your marriage, also known as marital property, in the event of divorce or death?
  • Will spousal support, also known as alimony, be paid in the event of divorce?

Having a properly executed prenuptial or antenuptial agreement in place before marriage will help protect you and your family financially and simplify matters in the event of divorce.

Further, a prenuptial agreement is particularly important for seniors who may be face future long-term care needs.  Long term care costs can devastate a healthy spouse’s finances and is another reason to ensure that a prenuptial agreement is executed prior to marriage.

Estate Planning

While a properly executed prenuptial or antenuptial agreement is an essential planning tool for a second marriage or marriage later in life, estate planning provides an extra layer of protection.

Under current Ohio law, there is the option for a spouse to elect against probate property, which means that a spouse can take a share from a probate estate even if the deceased spouse disinherited the surviving spouse in a Will.

For maximum protection from the spousal election, a spouse should execute a prenuptial or antenuptial agreement prior to marriage, and establish a trust as trust property is not subject to the spousal election.

In addition, a trust can be used to ensure that your assets are used to help support your surviving spouse but any remaining assets upon the surviving spouse’s death go to your own children or grandchildren.  This arrangement is oftentimes preferred over an outright inheritance to your spouse who can them leave any assets remaining at her death to her own heirs, rather than your own as you intended.

For more information on the prenuptial or antenuptial agreement and estate planning for a second marriage or marriage later in life, contact a Cleveland Estate Planning Lawyer.