Texas is one of a handful of states known as a community property state. In short, this means that the state considers nearly all assets and all debts held by a married couple to be jointly owned or jointly liable unless otherwise identified, such as in a prenuptial agreement. Some exceptions to this rule may include assets obtained via an inheritance or debt incurred prior to the marriage by only one person.
When a person gets married for the second or subsequent time, the nature of community property may find all of the deceased person’s assets flowing to the surviving spouse. If the deceased spouse had children from a prior marriage and no clear estate plan exists, those children may end up with nothing from their parent’s estate unless the surviving spouse chooses to give it to them.
For this reason, Forbes encourages remarrying couples to prioritize their estate planning activities. A clearly documented estate plan may be the only way to ensure that one’s spouse and one’s children truly receive what a person wants. Such a plan may utilize special trusts that allow funds to flow to multiple parties at different times. A good plan should also consider beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement plans as these may offer ideal ways of accommodating competing interests in a person’s estate.
If you would like to learn more about how to appropriately balance your desire to provide for your new spouse and your children from a prior marriage after you die, please feel free to visit the blended family’s asset structure page of our Texas estate planning website.