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Having been widowed and remarried several years ago, I have acquired a new appreciation for the legal and emotional struggles faced by new spouses in this situation. When both parties bring property into the marriage, each will usually have an understandable desire to protect the children from his or her first marriage. This can create a conflict with the perceived long-term security of the new spouse. For example, if the new wife were to die first, any property left directly to the husband might never revert to the wife’s children upon his death; he might leave it to his own family or even remarry and leave it yet to another spouse. When one spouse brings a disproportionate amount of property to the new marriage, the concern of the new spouse about “having a home over my head after you die” may become acute. Even if the spouses purchase a new home and own it equally but without the right of survivorship, the family of the first spouse to die could still demand that the house be sold so that the surviving spouse would have to scramble to find a place to live in or might not even have resources to afford a new home.
The problem can very often be alleviated by the use of a “life estate” given either to the spouse who does not own the home, or in the case of a co-owned home, a “life estate” being given to whichever spouse survives the other. This needs to …Read more
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