Do I Have to Give My Husband’s Children from First Marriage Anything When He Dies?
This is a common question with second (or third marriages) and blended families. Questions frequently arise about Social Security, investments and savings, when the husband is divorced from the children’s mother and is paying child support until each child turns 18.
Nj.com’s recent article entitled “Are my husband’s kids from another marriage due assets when he dies?” says that these questions demonstrate why estate planning is critical to revisit after a divorce. You can take action to make certain that you’re taken care of, but if you don’t do this at the time of the divorce, it could be too late.
Let’s look at what you should know about beneficiaries and wills. First, beneficiary designations supersede a will. Beneficiary designations are applicable in the context of IRAs, 401(k)s, some Louisiana state retirement benefit programs, and life insurance policies and annuities. Make sure that all beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries are consistent with your wishes. These beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance policies, annuities and other accounts take precedence over what may be stated in a will.
Louisiana does not provide for beneficiary designations on certain assets like a house, vehicles, and real estate. For married persons, some assets may be titled in the name of one spouse or in the names of both spouses. Regardless, in Louisiana, all assets are presumed to be community property if the client is married, regardless of how the property may be titled.
When you enter into a subsequent marriage, both spouses should review and update their wills to have an idea of how a spouse’s estate would be disbursed at his or her death. This is because substantial assets may be classified as “separate property” which would be distributed to the children of the spouse owning the separate property.
What else should one consider with respect to the question of “Do I Have to Give My Husband’s Children from First Marriage Anything When He Dies?” Keep in mind that Louisiana has not wholly repealed forced heirship. In Louisiana, a forced heir is a child who was under the age of 24 at the time of death of their parent, or a child of any age, if that child suffered from a physical or mental condition at the time of the parent’s death that could potentially render that child unable to care for himself or his estate. The amount that would have to be left to the forced heir will depend on how much property the parent died with, which is all of the parents separate property and one-half (1/2) of the parent’s community property. Unfortunately, many practitioners don’t consider the implications of forced heirship, and it is a highly litigated issue in Louisiana. You can protect yourself with proper planning if you have a forced heir (a child under the age of 24, or a child of any age if that child suffers from a physical or mental condition at the time of the parent’s death that could potentially render that child unable to care for himself or his estate).
If a husband is paying child support, divorce decrees may dictate that he purchase life insurance to cover that obligation upon his death. Therefore, there may be a life insurance policy for the children from a first marriage. In such cases, if you are the husband, you may want to provide that the beneficiary of the policy is a trust for the children, assuming the court order mandating the policy would permits that.
With Social Security, if a spouse remains unmarried after the spouse’s death, he or she can claim a survivor spousal benefit as early as age 60, and if he or she is caring for the spouse’s children from the first marriage who are under 16 years of age, he or she may be entitled to receive a payment earlier. The deceased spouse’s unmarried children can also claim a survivor benefit until age 18, or longer if in high school or disabled.
Reference: nj.com (Aug. 4, 2021) “Are my husband’s kids from another marriage due assets when he dies?”
To learn more, read: How Do I Avoid Estate Planning Mistake with a Blended Family? and How to Do I Address an Estranged Child in My Estate Planning? and What Should Small Business Owners Know about Estate Planning? and Is a Cup of Joe Healthy for Seniors?