For older couples on their second or third marriages, the idea of marital property division in case of another divorce can be a tricky negotiation. When there are children involved, from previous marriages, the idea of dividing an estate can cause conflicts.
Marital Property Division in 2nd and 3rd Marriages
In the U.S. two out of five first marriages end in divorce. About half of those divorcees go on to marry again. And according to the National Stepfamily Resource Center, for those who decide to marry for a second time, 65% have children from previous marriages. These new unions can mean a very complicated situation when it comes to transferring brokerage accounts, real estate, and relationships stepchildren and step-parents.
Be Upfront about Marital Property Division
One of the best ways to bridge the awkwardness that can happen if this marriage ends up in divorce (or death), is to be upfront about your estate plan and share it with your children. This can help to avoid later feuds and lawsuits between a surviving spouse and stepchildren. “It helps to say, ‘This is the plan I want followed’ and face whatever conflicts arise then,” says Amy Wilfert, partner at Day Pitney LLP. While the conversations might be uncomfortable, it is best to avoid any unhappy surprises down the road.
Tips on the Marital Property Division Conversation
Here are some key things to remember when discussing how marital property will be divided after a death or divorce:
- Be fair
- Consider trusts
- Make sure all documents are up-to-date
- Have specific health care, end-of-life, and burial wishes
Source: Bloomberg, Ways That Blended Families Can Avoid a Wealth of Bitterness, November 10, 2014
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