The statistics on marriage and remarriage in the United States reveal the fact that the typical marriage is almost as likely as not to end in divorce. In addition, about three out of every four people who do get divorced wind up getting remarried, and in the majority of cases one or both of them have children from a previous marriage.
When you are getting remarried and you have children from a previous marriage or marriages you are faced with some estate planning challenges. Traditionally marriage is a total and complete partnership, but second and third marriages can be more complicated, with one or both parties entering into the union with significant assets. So when you have the combination of children from a previous marriage and personal assets that you would like to protect, the solution is to enter into a prenuptial agreement.
Once your personal assets have been legally defined you have the freedom to leave them to your children. But what about your new spouse? Of course you want to provide for your husband or wife in the event of your death, and you can satisfy both of your objectives through the creation of a qualified terminable interest property trust.
With these trusts your spouse receives the trust income for life, and depending on the exact terms of the trust agreement he or she can also tap into the principal under some circumstances. But you name beneficiaries of the trust upon its creation, and these would presumably be your children. Your named beneficiaries inherit the trust assets upon the death of your surviving spouse, so with the QTIP you do provide for your spouse for life but he or she does not decide who gets the remainder.