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What do you do to protect your home in a second marriage?

Are you thinking of marrying again in your golden years, long after your children are grown?

If so, there's a tremendous number of things that you need to consider -- everything from who should be in charge of your medical care if you aren't able to speak for yourself (your new spouse or your oldest child?) to who gets named as the beneficiary of you life insurance policy.

For now, let's tackle the biggest asset that most people have (and the one that usually causes the most conflict among surviving family members): your home.

The odds are good that you want to make sure that your new spouse has a place to live if you die first -- but you also would like to see the property ultimately go to your adult children, who probably grew up there and have a significant emotional attachment to the place. If your soon-to-be-spouse isn't keeping a house of his or her own to return to in the event of your death, that can make balancing those two desires complicated.

There are several different options you may want to consider. Keep in mind that remarriage doesn't revoke a will. If your current will leaves the house to your children, it could have devastating consequences to your new spouse if you die first and your children want immediate possession of the property.

Instead, you could grant your new spouse a life estate over the property. If you die first, he or she retains the right to live in and control the property as long as he or she is alive. Once he or she dies, the property can then pass to your children.

This is a dangerous proposition, however, because you never know what may happen with your spouse after you're gone. If he or she goes into a nursing home, for example, your children could be stuck watching an empty house deteriorate for years, unable to do anything with it until your spouse passes away. Or, he or she could decide to rent it out and move away, which could be emotionally upsetting to your children.

Another possible solution is giving your new spouse a right of occupancy that terminates if he or she remarries, moves out, goes into a nursing home or triggers an end to the term based on some other criteria.

As you can see, estate and probate considerations can be complex. An attorney can help you understand more about the options available to you.

Source: FindLaw, "Nebraska Wills Laws," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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