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Guard against this threat to your children's inheritance: Spouses

You marry them, you love them, they are the source of your inspiration and happiness, yet spouses can also be a serious threat to your children's inheritance. Whether it's your husband or wife, or your child's husband or wife, this person could, in certain contexts, have the legal right to take some of the inheritance you want your child to have. This is why you need to prepare your estate plan in a way that protects your children's inheritance.

It's not a pretty thing to think about -- and in many cases the risk doesn't apply -- but when someone passes away, family members sometimes squabble over the assets left behind. If you remarried and have children from a previous marriage, this squabbling could happen between your current spouse and your children. Later, during divorce proceedings, your child's spouse could also seek the assets your child inherited from you.

This is one of the reasons it's essential that you maintain your separate assets during marriage. Also, draft a last will and testament that indicates who should receive what from both your individual assets and your share of the marital estate. You might also want to create a trust.

Using a will

In a community property state like Arizona, if you die without a will, your spouse may be able to receive more of your individual assets and your share of the marital estate than you intended. Your children will still have a right to inherit some of your individual assets, but they may have to fight during probate to assert these rights. It's better that you take care not to commingle your separate assets with your marital estate and that you provide clear guidelines in a will how you intend for your individual assets to be distributed. You'll also want to leave instructions for your half of the marital estate.

Using a trust

A trust could be an excellent solution to protect your children's inheritances from both your spouse and your children's spouses. A trust will safeguard the separateness of the property in both your marriage and in the marriages of your children. A trust will also allow your children to bypass probate and receive their inheritances almost immediately after you pass.

If you want to know more about safeguarding your children's inheritances, our law firm is available to discuss the unique characteristics of your case with you.

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