Second Marriages & Estate Planning

Law Office of Geoffrey Fong July 8, 2022

Information About Estate Planning and Old GlassesCreating an estate plan allows you to make suitable plans in advance about how your assets and investments should be managed, distributed, or disposed of when you pass away. Estate planning also allows you to make adequate provisions for your surviving loved ones. However, getting married for a second time can bring about different important considerations when drafting or updating your estate plan.

When in a second marriage, provisions for your new spouse, kids with the new spouse, as well as children from your previous marriage or relationships must be carefully planned. An experienced California estate planning attorney can enlighten you about some of the things to consider when creating an estate plan with your new spouse or updating your existing plan.

The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong is committed to offering experienced legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in the legal matters of estate planning and remarriage. Attorney Geoffrey Fong is available to discuss your unique situation and walk you through the process of updating or creating an estate plan in your second marriage. The firm is proud to serve clients across Rocklin, California, and the surrounding areas, including Roseville, Citrus Heights, and Folsom.

Rights of a Surviving Spouse

California is a community property state. Under the system, unless there is a written agreement – usually a will or prenuptial agreement – the surviving spouse automatically owns half of the marital property (the assets and income earned by both spouses during the marriage).

Upon the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse will be entitled to one-half of the community property of the deceased person. In the event that there are no surviving children (biological or adopted), parents, or siblings, the decedent’s surviving spouse will receive all community and separate property.

Considerations When Creating an

Estate Plan in a Second Marriage

When drafting an estate plan in a second marriage, here are some important things to consider:

Prenuptial Agreement

If you are going into a second marriage with significant assets, you should consider creating a prenuptial agreement. Drafting a prenup allows couples to define expectations, protect their assets, provide for minor children from previous relationships, and achieve financial security and peace of mind. However, you should only establish a marital agreement with your partner with an honest and open mind.

Inheritance of the Children

Following your remarriage, the laws of the new marriage will address marital property. In California, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit one-half of the marital estate. Due to this, adult children from the first marriage may lose most of their potential inheritance to the second spouse. Thus, it is important to make necessary provisions regarding inheritance for your children when drafting your estate plan.

Trusts to Protect Assets

Creating a trust provides several benefits. The trust can help protect your assets and property – or assets you intend to leave for your children – from a divorce. Also, the trust assets will bypass the expensive probate process when you’re gone. You will also have control over how your assets, property, and income are distributed.


Ensure that you update the beneficiaries on your retirement plan, annuity, and life insurance policy to reflect your current wishes. In case you are unable to change the beneficiaries in a second marriage, you may need to purchase additional retirement plans or life insurance policies where you can include your new partner.

Long-Term Care Costs

If you’re married, you will be responsible for the long-term care and nursing home costs of your spouse – even if it is a second marriage or a prenuptial agreement exists. Therefore, when drafting or updating your estate plan, you should make necessary provisions for the long-term care costs for you and your spouse should the need arise.

An experienced California estate planning lawyer can help draft your important estate planning documents and enlighten you about the potential pitfalls to avoid.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when creating an estate plan in a second marriage:

  • Failure to change your wills or beneficiary designations

  • Failure to remove your ex-spouse from – or add your new spouse to – your estate planning documents

  • Not having financial discussions with your current spouse

  • Failure to change or update your financial documents

  • Treating all heirs and beneficiaries equally

  • Delaying giving inheritances, gifts, or money to your children

  • Failing to discuss your estate plans with your new family

  • Not working with an experienced estate planning attorney

When creating an estate plan in a second marriage, it is important that you get it right and avoid any potential mistakes that might invalidate your estate planning documents. A skilled attorney can guide you through the entire estate planning process from start to finish and help you navigate crucial decisions.

How The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong Can Help

Establishing or updating your estate plan after remarrying often involves a lot of complexities. Deciding whether to create a new joint will, determining assets to leave for each child, updating documents and beneficiaries, and managing your financial plan can make the entire process even more complex and daunting. Therefore, consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is crucial to explore your possible legal options and for detailed guidance.

Attorney Geoffrey Fong has devoted his career to assisting and guiding individuals and families in their second marriage through the complexities of estate planning. As your legal counsel, he can explore your possible estate planning options and help decide the ideal plan that best suits you and your family’s needs. 

Using his extensive knowledge, Attorney Geoffrey Fong will guide you through every step involved in creating or updating your estate plan. Above all, he will make sure the plan is comprehensive and covers all necessary provisions for your loved ones.

Contact the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong today to schedule a simple consultation with a trusted wills lawyer. Attorney Geoffrey Fong can offer you the experienced legal counsel and brilliant advocacy you need to navigate crucial decisions in your estate planning. The firm proudly serves clients across Rocklin, Roseville, Citrus Heights, and Folsom, California.