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Tip: When you get married again, watch your assets

For those making another trip down the aisle to say "I do," love may be lovelier the second time around, but beware of the potential financial and emotional pitfalls.

"The most common problem I see is not thinking in terms of what belongs to my kids and what belongs to your kids down the road," says Michael Kresh, president of M.D. Kresh Financial Services in Islandia.

For example, if a spouse wants to name children or grandchildren as beneficiaries, this can become tricky, especially when it comes to pension benefits. "The law says after you're married for a year, your spouse has to be your principal beneficiary," Kresh says. If you want your kids to receive survivors' benefits, the new spouse must sign a spousal consent waiver.

There also could be obstacles in leaving your kids other assets, including your home and your savings. "The issue here is the individual wills may say that your assets go to your children, but then if the new couple puts stuff in a joint name, the will no longer has control," Kresh says.

Kresh advises all older newlyweds to redo their wills and check their beneficiary designations to ensure their assets are passed along in the way they want.

And while his-and-her towels are great for newlyweds, his-and-her houses are not. In many second marriages, especially among widows and widowers, both partners come to the altar as homeowners.

"Obviously, you can't live in both houses," Kresh says. But which one should you live in? He says the decision should be based on which house is easier to sell, but he also understands that could mean keeping the house that will need more work and maintenance.

And don't dismiss the idea of selling both houses. "You may find that neither house is right for the new you," Kresh says. Because of the depressed housing market, a two-for-one swap may make economic sense. "You may find a more suitable house, particularly if you're looking to downsize," he says.

Kresh also notes that for most couples, there will be no tax bite even if they sell both houses. Each spouse can exclude from taxes up to $250,000 in capital-gains profits garnered from the sale of each home.


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