Q&A: How to keep your spouse’s next spouse from spending your money after you die

Dear Liz: I want to make sure that I leave an inheritance for my son from my first marriage. I remarried 12 years ago. My husband has no children. I do have a prenuptial agreement. My husband and I are financially fine. We own our own home and have adequate investments. I wouldn’t want to leave my husband without necessary funds, and he says he’ll make sure that my son gets an inheritance. But my husband’s father had dementia, and I am concerned that if my husband develops it, he may spend all the money on impulsive purchases. He has a tendency to make impulsive purchases now that we can afford them. What might I set up to ensure that my son receives an inheritance?

Answer: If you don’t make specific plans to leave money for your son, he may not get an inheritance even if your husband doesn’t develop dementia.

To put it another way: if you don’t want your spouse’s next spouse to spend your money, then talk to an estate planning attorney about your options.

You could, for example, leave part of your estate to your son and the rest to your spouse. Another possibility is to create a trust that gives your spouse income from your assets while he’s alive and then transfers the assets to your son when your spouse dies. Yet another is to name your son as the beneficiary to certain accounts, such as life insurance or retirement funds, while leaving other accounts to your spouse.

All of these options have advantages and disadvantages. An estate planning attorney can help you evaluate the best approach for your situation and draw up the needed paperwork.