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It’s My Second Marriage: What Is Fair in a Second Marriage and Estate Planning?

Home » It’s My Second Marriage: What Is Fair in a Second Marriage and Estate Planning?

Second marriage estate planning is important for those who plan to remarry or have already remarried. While children are perhaps the most important reason to create or update an estate plan, there are several other factors to consider. It is essential to ensure an estate plan accommodates your needs and is current when circumstances change in life. Those in Novi, MI with questions or who want to learn more should feel free to reach out to Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC at 248-397-9606. 

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What Elements Should You Consider in Second Marriage Estate Planning?

There are several things to think about when entering a second or subsequent marriage. Those with an estate plan created in a first marriage typically prefer not to leave their assets to a former spouse. This could be the case when an estate plan is not updated following a divorce. Some of the most important elements to consider include:


It is common for one or both spouses to have children from a previous marriage when entering a second marriage. This means one or both will have step children, which can be problematic when an estate plan is never created or updated. Spouses bring bank accounts, property, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets into a second marriage. The children may be minors or adults, and parents typically want to ensure specific assets are left for their own biological children. In most cases spouses also want to ensure their significant other has sufficient income to live on upon their death. Without an estate plan in place, assets may be divided in a way that the deceased spouse never intended. This is why second marriage estate planning is so important.


When spouses do not have an estate plan in place, those they intend to inherit property and assets may not benefit. Inheritance becomes complicated when someone who passes failed to create a Last Will and Testament and/or designating beneficiaries on bank accounts, retirement plans, stocks, and other assets. Heirlooms, jewelry, real estate and other property is difficult for the probate court to allocate. The probate process is one that is often long and stressful – and a court-appointed administrator will be responsible for distributing assets. A spouse’s own children may not inherit the assets the deceased intended when an estate goes through probate.


A proper estate plan outlines who beneficiaries will be in the event of a spouse’s death during a second marriage. There may be several beneficiaries who are designated to receive certain assets or property upon your passing. With second marriage estate planning, children, step children, and a surviving spouse are common beneficiaries depending on the circumstances. However, it is possible to designate other family members, friends, or charitable organizations as beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are named in a living or revocable trust, which can be updated during your life when circumstances change. Trusts are one element of an estate plan that should be considered in addition to a will. When an estate goes through the probate process it often results in discord among family members or even estrangement. Siblings may feel they were treated unfairly in terms of the distribution of assets and property.

Long Term Care Planning

Adults often fail to consider planning for long-term care, but it is not limited to the elderly. A person may require long-term care due to a chronic illness, injury, accident, or for other reasons. The unexpected often happens, leaving someone in a situation where they cannot perform daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, or even walking on their own. Whether long-term care is provided in a nursing or assisted living facility or your home, the costs for care can be overwhelming. In fact, it is normal for long-term care costs to range from $50,000 per year to more than $90,000 depending on the level of care needed. When someone needs long-term care, there are generally three options:

  • Individual or family assets
  • Medicaid
  • Long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance ensures those who need care will not be a financial burden on their loved ones. It also protects income and assets that might otherwise be used to pay for long-term care. 

Why Is a Pre/Post Nuptial Agreement Important in Second Marriage Estate Planning?

Anyone who has been through a divorce knows how complicated and stressful it can be. A pre- or post-nuptial agreement is a critical and essential component of estate planning to protect your financial future. In the event of a divorce in a second marriage these agreements resolve issues so that lengthy litigation can be avoided. Consider the following to decide if a pre- or post-nuptial agreement may be important in a second marriage:

  • One partner/spouse has substantial debts
  • One or both partners have children from prior relationships
  • Partners/spouses have assets acquired prior to a relationship
  • One spouse/partner owns a business
  • Partners/spouses can agree how collective finances and assets will be managed in the marriage, and following a potential divorce
  • Prevent expensive litigation and potential disputes in the event of a divorce, making it more amicable

Naturally, no one considers the possibility of a divorce when they marry for a second time. Those who have been divorced should realize that it is a possibility in any marriage. Unfortunately, many wait until it is too late to put a pre- or post-nuptial agreement in place. When divorce is inevitable, it can be more complex and distressing than you could imagine. This is especially true when there are children and significant assets involved.

Consider Visiting with Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC

An estate plan is important for any married couple regardless of whether it is a first or subsequent marriage. Many people believe estate planning is only for those who are wealthy, but this is not the case. Most people have property, homes, bank accounts, and other things they fail to realize are assets. Those who are remarrying should consider second marriage estate planning. Melissa Pearce & Associates, PLC provides skilled legal guidance for those who want to learn more about estate planning and how it can impact your life. Consider scheduling a pre-engagement meeting at 248-397-9606. Contact us today!

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