New Second Marriage Statistics Brings Trust Planning for Spouses into Sharp Focus

One the main reasons many of my clients want to create a testamentary trust for their spouse - something we typically call generally a “Marital Trust” is the fear that after their death, their husband or wife (but typically the fear is more about the husband) will remarry, and the children will lose out to the new wife or husband, the stepmother or stepfather, in terms of the assets left to them.

It is a common fear, and a stereotype, but one that any estate planning attorney can tell you does happen.

A recent Washington Post article, Forty Percent of New U.S. Marriages Are Remarriages, Report Finds, The Washington Post, Nov. 14, 2014, by Fredrick Kunkle, puts this issue under a sharper lens.

The story confirms what I have been saying to clients for years, that a widower is likely to remarry, while a widow may remarry. The article notes:

“Most men are eager to marry a second time, while most women say one time was enough.”

Mr. Kunkle goes further into this issue, noting:

“Among previously married or widowed men, 65 percent would remarry or at least are unsure. But only 43 percent of women would walk down the aisle again or consider doing so. Among men, only 30 percent do not want to remarry; among women, the figure is nearly twice that, at 54 percent.”

“Older divorced men are used to being cared for by their wives on a daily basis. Older divorced women may not want to do that anymore,” [Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University] said.

“The report notes that those attitudes are reflected in the pattern of remarried couples — 64 percent of men have remarried, compared with 52 percent of previously married or widowed women.”

A Marital Trust, and such trusts come in many types, including flexible and inflexible, tax advantaged and without regard to taxes at all, and with or without significant constraints on the surviving spouse, allow one spouse to care for their surviving spouse, while still allowing for unused assets to pass to the first spouse’s intended beneficiaries, typically children.

As one client eloquently put it to me,

“If I died tomorrow, and my husband lived for 40 years and used every penny of our money, that is fine. That is what I signed up for. But I died tomorrow, and he lived for 5 years, I don’t want my money, our money, going to his new wife, or her kids, or his creditors. I want the money used for him, or my kids, not anyone else.”

A Marital Trust can do that. Talk to your estate planning attorney about your options, or contact us to discuss adding a Marital Trust to your own estate plan.

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