Although state laws have some variations, a general rule is that if you pass away without a will, then your closest living relative will get your estate. If you are married, it normally means that your spouse gets everything.
This can be a problem if you have children from a previous relationship, since your spouse will not be obligated to preserve anything that he or she inherits and give it to those children.
It is, therefore, important that you make plans for your children, as the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discusses in "Protecting Your Children's Inheritance After Remarriage."
Some ways to accomplish this include:
- Get a prenuptial agreement before you get remarried. In a prenuptial agreement, you and your future spouse can agree that some of your assets will go to your children after you pass away.
- Create a trust that allows your spouse to use some of your assets while he or she is alive and that gives the remainder of the assets to your children after your spouse passes away.
- Name your children as beneficiaries of your retirement accounts or life insurance policies.
- Create a will that gives specific bequests to your children.
- Give your children gifts while you are still alive.
In the end, make sure that you work with a qualified estate planning attorney to get it done right.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog "Protecting Your Children's Inheritance After Remarriage."