What Happens If Your Spouse Remarries?
Do you remember back when you were a child and Mom or Dad would read you a bedtime story? As you were tucked into bed, all sorts of characters and creatures would float through your imagination. Often, these stories held an important lesson or message for kids. However, there are lessons for adults in these stories as well. In today's episode of "Estate Planning by the Book", we will examine the story of Cinderella.
Classic folk tales often end with the conclusion "They lived happily ever after." That should be the same result for a properly prepared family estate plan.
When A Spouse Passes Away, Things Can Change
Cinderella is a beautiful young girl, who exudes kindness and patience. However, tragedy besets her when her mother becomes ill. As her mother lays on her deathbed, she leaves Cinderella with a very touching message.
There was a rich man, whose wife lay sick. When she felt her end drawing near, she called to her only daughter to come near to her bed and she said:
"Dear child, be good and pious and God will always take care of you. And I will look down upon you from heaven and will be with you."
A Kind Child In An Unkind Situation
Unfortunately for Cinderella, her mother's passing is the start of a very difficult time in her life. Her father marries a new woman, who is both evil and envious of Cinderella and her wonderful traits. Also, the woman brings her two daughters into the family, who tease young Cinderella mercilessly and force her to do all of their chores. Cinderella endures all of this abuse for some time, and keeps silent about this to her father, since he is controlled by her vicious stepmother.
Some Magic Happens For Cinderella
Fortunately for young Cinderella, a magical event happens later in the story and her circumstances change for the better. A fairy godmother appears and turns a pumpkin into a golden coach, mice into fine horses, and a rat into a coachman. This gives Cinderella the chance to attend a royal ball and fall in love with the prince.
However, what if the magic never happened? What if Cinderella endures years of abuse at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters with no chance at meeting the prince?
How Can This Be Avoided?
Let's take another look at the story from an estate planning perspective.
Prior to falling ill, her mother and father could have planned their estate in such a way as to protect their only daughter after either one of them passes. Cinderella's parents could have created a trust that would provide benefits for just her and not her stepmother or stepsisters. In this way, Cinderella would not be subject to their manipulation and abuse. Also, Cinderella would not have to rely on magic to change her situation, which is a very risky way of planning for the future.
In summary, a trust can be a great way to protect your children and make sure that your assets (your wealth) is passed on to them, rather than to a new wife, or stepchildren, who may be brought into the family after your spouse re-marries. Trusts are very flexible and can be tailored to each family's unique circumstances.
An Attorney You Can Trust
Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney with over 40 years of experience as a lawyer. He can help you plan for the future by creating a Minnesota Estate Plan. For more information, please visit http://www.mnestateplan.com or call toll free at 952-641-7312.
The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.