+Donald Trump, what a guy! Real estate mogul, avid golfer with a handicap in the low single digits, famous hair, tv show where he gets to scream, “You’re Fired!”. Oh, and yes, a total of 3 wives, so far, in his lifetime. Let’s talk about those wives. Trump and his first wife, Ivana, had three children together. He and his second wife, Marla, had one child. And his 3rd and current wife, Melania, also gave birth to a son. What do you want to bet that in each case Trump didn’t marry these beautiful women for their money? Undoubtedly, Trump had more money than probably all 3 of his wives combined.
What do other people do when they marry a second (or third) spouse, and the two lovebirds are not financial equals? When people marry later in life, it isn’t uncommon for them to come into the marriage with differing amounts of wealth. And it isn’t always the husband who has more money than the wife. But if it’s a second or third marriage, all sorts of issues present themselves. Some of the more common issues are:
What happens to the house if the wealthier spouse dies first and wants to leave everything to his or her children from a prior marriage?
What if the wife doesn’t have much savings of her own, and her husband at least wants to leave something to her in case she has a financial emergency, or just provide an allowance for the rest of her life? And does that money keep coming if she remarries?
What if the spouse with no real wealth dies first, and his or her children come haunting around looking for something to call their inheritance?
Worse yet, what if both of the spouses become incapacitated, leaving their respective children to each take care of them? Whose money will they use?
There are several different estate planning tools you can use to address these and other issues when you and your spouse have unequal wealth – here are just a few: (1) You can use a prenuptial agreement and a property agreement to spell out your respective rights. (2) You can purchase an annuity so that upon the wealthy person’s death the surviving spouse receives a specific sum of money each month for the rest of their life; (3) You can grant your spouse a life estate to remain in the home for the rest of his or her life; (4) You can provide for the needy spouse through use of a will or trust; (5) You can do nothing, and hope that the least wealthy spouse dies first; (6) You can do nothing, and count on the fact that the needy spouse will probably struggle once the wealthy spouse dies.
Planning of this type isn’t easy, but with some creative thinking and initiative, you can get through it and resolve all of these issues to the collective benefit of concerned. I have no doubt that Mrs. Trump # 1 and Mrs. Trump # 2, though they lost their wealthy spouse to divorce rather than to death, are very happy for the plans in place for them and for their children.
For more information on estate planning and other legal needs, or if you have a legal question you would like for me to address, please visit my website at www.leflerlegal.com, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 512-863-5658. My office is located in Tamiro Plaza, 501 South Austin Avenue, Suite 1320, in Georgetown, Texas.