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Prenuptial agreements can protect your children when you remarry

While prenuptial agreements among couples of all ages and income levels are becoming more common, some couples going into a second or subsequent marriage still balk at signing one.

However, for people with children from previous marriages or relationships, it's important to delineate each person's separate assets you are bringing into the marriage and to keep those assets separate. Otherwise, your children and/or other heirs could be left out in the cold, even if you and your new spouse never divorce.

An all-too-common scenario is one in which a couple with children from previous marriages tie the knot and simply decide to combine all of their assets. They have a happy life together until the husband dies. The surviving spouse gets all of the money and other assets under the law, which she can bequeath to her own children. The children of the deceased spouse are left with nothing, even if most of the money was their parents'.

Of course, surviving spouses can share that money and other assets with the adult stepkids. However, they're under no obligation to do so.

A prenup going into a remarriage should not replace an updated estate plan that designates what your kids get and what your spouse gets. However, that can be hard to determine if the assets you bring into your marriage aren't listed and don't remain separate.

Further, your will only covers what happens when you die. If the couple divorces, a spouse could be awarded assets that the other one intended to go to his or her children one day.

The more established you are and the more obligations you have to family when you remarry, the more important it is that you and your betrothed each obtain experienced legal advice to help protect the interests of those who are counting on you. That way, whether death or divorce eventually parts you, they won't find themselves out in the cold or mired in legal battles.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Financial planners: Prenuptial agreements shouldn't be a deal breaker in remarriages," Tim Grant, accessed April 26, 2017

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