People are often similar and predictable. It is no different when it comes to their estate plans. Most people want the same thing. Almost universally, when a husband and wife in a first marriage devise an estate plan they want the same thing: when the first spouse passes away, everything goes to the surviving spouse. When the second spouse passes away, everything goes to the children. Executing this plan with joint Wills is not always the best option.
Most people do not want to think about it, but there is always a possibility that a surviving spouse will get remarried. It happens all the time. The new spouse is entitled to a share of the surviving spouse’s estate by law. This may or may not leave enough of the property available for the original couple’s children to receive the originally contemplated inheritance.
The initial goal of most couples is laudable. It is an excellent idea to leave your assets to your surviving spouse with the plan that everything will eventually pass on to your children. It is not the idea that is wrong. It is often the execution. Circumstances change and what we expect to happen often doesn’t. Talk to an estate planning attorney about ways that you and your spouse can accomplish the same goals in ways that take changing circumstances into consideration.