How do we preserve my deceased father's estate when my mother remarries?

3 answers | Last updated: Dec 05, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father died last year, leaving a sizeable estate. He handled all the finances, so I took over with power of attorney to handle finances for mom. My mother is now already contemplating remarriage. A pre-nup has been discussed. What needs to be included to preserve the estate for my sister and myself as my father intended?

Expert Answers

Liza Hanks is the founder and owner of FamilyWorks Estate Planning, a law firm with offices in Campbell and Los Altos, California, and the author of The Busy Family's Guide to Estate Planning (Nolo, 2007).

It depends on what your parents' estate plan says about who controls the property that your father left behind. If he left it all to your mother, then what she does with it is her business, and not yours.

And if you are your mother's financial agent, acting under a power of attorney that she signed, it's your job to carry out her wishes--and you have no real say in what she does with her money and property.

If, however, your parents' estate plan left your father's share of the estate to your mother in trust, which is a common estate plan for married couples, especially those with sizable estates, then it's probable that your father's assets are already slated to go to you and your siblings when your mother dies.

Community Answers answered...

I find it is so frequent that children think whatever assests belong to their parents should automatically belong to them. If father and mother planned a trust, it would state in the trust where the assests are to proceed to if there are other possible circumstances such as re-marriage. If father left everything to mother, then it is up to the mother to make a pre-nup or trust to give what she wants to give to her children or if she wants it to go to her husband. She may want it to go to charity!! I think it is sad when children automatically think whatever belongs to the parents , in the event of their deaths, belongs to them. Greed is the biggest cause of estranged families.

Mcherston answered...

After my husband's death everything went to me. If I choose to remarry someday I can make a trust for my kids. I was wonder what I could do. Thanks so much.