Congratulations to Attorney Richard E. Barnes on his book, "Estate Planning for Blended Families: Providing for Your Spouse and Children in a Second Marriage" (Nolo, $34.99).
Mark Kanny of the TRIBUNE-REVIEW reviews the book:
"A second marriage isn't a just second marriage; given the complexities, it's more like marriage squared, says author Richard E. Barnes. Just one legal aspects of those intricacies is addressed by Barnes, an attorney, in "Estate Planning for Blended Families: Providing for Your Spouse and Children in a Second Marriage" (Nolo, $34.99). Blended families means at least one partner has children from a previous marriage. "
Here is some of Richard Barnes' advice:
• Personally confront emotional issues from a previous marriage to be fair in making estate decisions.
• Know what your spouse is entitled to claim, including whether you live in a common-law state such as Pennsylvania or a community-property state.
• Prepare for predictably difficult topics of discussion, such as distribution of assets, by making lists to build in fairness about who gets Grandma's china or silver service.
• In the midst of disagreements, make sure to keep talking together -- which means knowing when to listen.
• When compromise proves impossible, look for a third way, which is another way of saying be creative.
• Be sure to use each non-spouse's full applicable exclusion amount, which reduces estate taxes. There is an unlimited marital deduction -- which means no estate tax on anything you leave outright to your spouse, with a few conditions.
• Explore the differences between wills and revocable living trusts. Trusts don't go through probate in court, but the issues are complex.
• Take full advantage of lifetime giving opportunities and other estate-reduction techniques.
• Make end-of-life decisions while you're well, including medical care such as heroic measures vs. hospice.
• Keep beneficiaries informed of your plans.
• Update your plans on a regular basis.