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Estate planning issues after a second marriage

It is not uncommon for California residents to get married more than once. However, a second or subsequent marriage could lead to estate planning issues that may be overlooked. For example, property that a person brings into a marriage is generally considered to be that person's property. However, money or property accrued during a marriage will likely be considered property of both spouses.

Money or property may also be controlled by ownership designations or similar documents. When a person passes on, his or her property may be commingled if a spouse gets remarried. Creating a trust may ensure that property goes to children or other intended beneficiaries no matter what happens after a person passes on.

A trust may also clear up any confusion over when property may be passed down. Without a trust, a child may need to wait until both spouses have passed until assets are inherited. With a trust, its language spells out what happens to property and when it happens. Those who share a home together may wish to put it in a trust, which may allow a surviving spouse to stay there until that person's death.

Creating a comprehensive estate plan may reduce the odds of family disputes or other issues with meeting a person's final wishes. An attorney may be helpful as it relates to creating or reviewing such documents. Counsel may also be helpful in the event that an estate plan document needs to be changed. If a change does need to be made, it should be done in a new document rather than marking up the original.

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