Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

Gray remarriage: Estate planning tips for blended families

The gray divorce phenomenon signals a new trend – gray remarriage.

Suppose you’re an adult over 50 in Virginia who tried to endure your high-conflict relationship for years. Now that your children are adults, you have finally built the courage and wisdom to face and conquer divorce. After you’ve tied up loose ends, you welcome the possibility of finding love again.

Blended families as the new normal

After finalizing your Virginia divorce, you and your new partner can form a family unit, known as a blended family, if you both have children from your prior marriages or relationship.

But without a clear estate plan during incapacitation or death, you risk accidentally disinheriting your children from your original marriage. In the most tragic cases, if you die, your new surviving spouse could reduce or eliminate your children’s inheritance for the benefit of their own children.

There are certain ways you can divide your wealth without dividing your blended family.

  • Secure a pre- or postnuptial agreement: Both documents allow you to clearly outline your and your new spouse’s respective responsibilities in terms of financial matters, such as spousal support, asset distribution and retirement account ownership.
  • Constantly update your accounts to reflect recent changes: Always check if your financial accounts’ beneficiaries and legal directives’ appointed agents are who they are supposed to be – whether it be your children, or your new spouse and their children.
  • Create trusts protecting both parties’ children: You may leave your estate to your new spouse during their lifetime. They can eventually pass the remaining assets to their children in the event of incapacitation or death. Another option in the event of a deceased spouse, applicable only if you bring equal assets to the marriage, is to provide half of the estate to the decedent’s children.

You may also designate your minor children as beneficiaries in a separate trust or insurance policy. Further, suppose you have children with special physical or mental needs that require extra care and attention. In this case, you must ensure to communicate your concerns to your new spouse properly.

Blended families have inherently complex structures and dynamics prone to disputes. So, you must exercise careful consideration to ensure the execution of your plans is how you intended them to be.

Merging your newfound and old love

Gray remarriage has unique vulnerabilities, which could result in problematic missteps and relationship strains. It would be wise and strategic to have a legal team streamline the process for you while ensuring the fair division of your wealth without severing relationships.


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