What Are Some of the Things My Estate Plan Should Include for my Spouse?

The goals that we hear most often from clients regarding a spouse include:

  • I want my spouse to be able to maintain the lifestyle that we currently enjoy after I’m gone.
  • I want to protect what I leave my spouse from people who might otherwise take advantage; whether family members or strangers.
  • I am in a second marriage, and I want my spouse cared for after I’m gone. But I also want to ensure that my estate goes to my children after my spouse passes away.
  • I have handled most of our investments throughout our married life, and my spouse has not been involved. I would like my spouse to maintain control, but I’d also like to provide investment help.
  • I want to be sure my spouse can, while still benefiting only my bloodline, make adjustments in my bequests in order to address changes in the circumstances of my children and descendants that occur after I’m gone.
  • I want to maximize any tax protections available to my spouse.

What if My Spouse Remarries?

Most people want to know that if their spouse remarries, the plan for children or loved ones is protected, and not lost to a new spouse. One of the ways this can be accomplished is to have the estate plan require the surviving spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement if they want to maintain control of the assets when they remarry. The plan can make this a recommendation, or it can be as severe as removing the spouse as successor trustee or even as a beneficiary of the trust. This is obviously a counseling discussion with your advisors, and typically works best when both spouses have the identical provision for the other.