Cunningham, Chernicoff & Warshawsky, P.C.

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As of May 29, 2020, Dauphin County, where our office is located, has moved from Red to Yellow status. Our office will re-open on June 1, 2020. Until further notice, Stay Safe Guidelines will be followed, including safe social distancing (6 feet), cleaning after each client and the wearing of masks by employees and clients at all times while in our office. People who are ill and those without masks will not be permitted entry into our office.

Estate planning and second marriages: What you should know

It is not uncommon for some people to get married a second, third or even fourth time in Harrisburg. But when it comes to estate planning and second marriages, it can add another layer of complexity to an already confusing situation. You want to provide for your family members, but there are many financial and estate planning issues you should consider first. 

In first marriages, many people chose to leave things behind to their surviving spouses. However, with second and subsequent relationships, the goals are different. You may have children from a previous relationship, your spouse may have kids from a prior marriage and you may even have biological children together. To prevent issues that could leave your current spouse and biological and step-children at a disadvantage, consider the following advice about estate planning and second marriages

Talk to your family 

To get the ball rolling, talk to your family. Inform them of your goals and what you hope to achieve with them. Explain to them why you want to take the actions you are considering with your estate plans. By sharing your intent with your family now, you give everyone time to come to terms with decisions. They will be fewer negative emotions about what is to come and less need for you to worry about disputes and conflicts regarding your estate plans when you die. 

Review estate plans from previous marriage 

Do not assume that divorce disinherits your previous end of life instructions. It does not. Look over your old estate plans so you can understand how you should revise them to reflect your current family dynamic and wishes. Be sure to review your divorce decree as well in addition to the beneficiaries you have listed on your retirement, life insurance and bank accounts. For example, depending on your circumstances you may not be able to remove your former spouse as a beneficiary of your retirement account to add your current spouse if it violates your divorce decree. 

Because there are so many things for you to consider and laws and probate rules, it can be challenging to create estate plans when you have remarried. To prevent issues with your final wishes, provide for your new spouse and kids and protect your estate, you may find it to be in your best interest to speak with an estate planning expert.