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Estate planning is essential when you are in a second marriage

With the rise in second marriages, estate planning can become more difficult if you have children from previous marriages and your current marriage. Agreeing that an estate plan is needed is the first step in making sure that your wishes are met after you are gone.

Trying to be fair can be hard to determine. What you deem fair may not be viewed as such with your children from the previous marriage. To keep things amicable, it's probably a good idea to divide your assets equally between your survivors. If you give different amounts, it could cause hard feelings, but ultimately it is your choice and your circumstances may warrant a different approach.

When developing your estate plan you need to look at different scenarios. Typically assets go first to the surviving spouse and then the children. If you leave everything to your current spouse to distribute, your children from the previous marriage may feel that they won't get their fair share. Developing an estate plan that breaks down the assets depending on how and when you die and if you both die together is another way to develop a plan.

Most blended families that are developing an estate plan typically create their own plan and then create one together. You can then usually develop a plan that you're both happy with and a qualified estate planning attorney can help you make sure you are considering all of your options.

When your children are old enough to understand estate planning, you should share your plans and reasons for your decisions. This helps set expectations and makes everyone understand your thought process and will hopefully avoid any conflict when you are gone.

Source: Finance.Townhall.com, "Estate Planning in a 2nd Marriage: What's Fair?" Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, Dec. 26, 2012

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