Children Getting Married? Here's an Estate Planning Approach for You

Anyone who wants a lasting say in decisions about their health care, finances and legacy should have an estate plan. Here are some specific estate planning considerations for parents whose kids are tying the knot.

When your child gets married, it’s time to celebrate. But before the wedding festivities get underway, you may want to think about your finances. Welcoming a new family member is a good opportunity to reevaluate your estate plan to make sure it considers your changing family dynamics and your personal wishes. Here are some things to consider.

What happens if they get divorced?

Within the past few years, over 50% of first marriages have ended in divorce. With more people deciding to have kids out of wedlock or live together instead of getting married, those numbers could be even higher.

No one hopes for a failed marriage, but a good estate plan should consider the possibility. In a divorce, the division of assets is decided by the laws of the state where the divorce is filed. Whether you are concerned about the person your child is marrying or not, you can take steps to work within the state laws to protect your family assets, just in case.1

How to protect family assets

The gold standard for protecting family assets is a prenuptial agreement. These types of arrangements are becoming increasingly popular with Millennials and Generation Z. These generations seem open to having a more pragmatic approach to marriage. What they may be realizing is that marriage is just as much of a business partnership as it is a domestic one.

A common misconception is that a prenuptial agreement signals mistrust or the desire to have more control. But in reality, a prenuptial agreement simply allows a couple to document how their assets should be divided in the event of a split and ensure that it reflects the wishes of their families and themselves.2, 3

If a prenuptial agreement is a non-starter, you could consider forming a trust instead. In normal circumstances, a will is often adequate, and a trust is not really needed. But in the case of divorce, a trust could be an extremely important safeguard for your children’s inheritance, especially when there is significant wealth involved.

There are a few different ways a trust can be structured to ensure your child is protected. It’s important that you work with a knowledgeable estate attorney to create the trust. They will assist you with selecting a responsible trustee, including the right provisions and everything else the formation of a trust requires.4, 5

Start the estate planning conversation early

Planning to transfer wealth to future generations can feel stressful, but we encourage our clients to be open and honest about family wealth with their children. By starting these conversations early and creating a sense of family ownership, your children will trust that you have their best interests in mind.

When children get married, a loving relationship is cemented, and a new legal and financial relationship is also created. We believe that it is wise to work with a professional wealth advisor and estate planning attorney to create your plan, protect your assets, ensure that your wishes are honored and establish a solid foundation for future generations.

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1 Crowley, Jason. “How Many Marriages End in Divorce?” Survive Divorce, Accessed 7/25/23.
2 Erskine, Matthew. “Discussing Prenuptial Agreements with Adult Children.” Forbes, 1/23/23, Accessed 8/1/23.
3 “A New Era of Marriage: Why Millennials and Members of Gen Z Are Saying Yes to Prenups.” Hamilton Clarke, LLP, 10/26/21, Accessed 7/27/23.
4 “How to Protect Your Child’s Inheritance from Their Spouse.” Santaella Legal Group, APC, 8/25/22, Accessed 7/27/23.
5 Smith, Katie. “Is a Prenup or a Trust Better Advance Preparation for Divorce?” Lawrence Law Divorce and Family Lawyers, 6/10/22, Accessed 7/30/23.


Brendan Hughes, CFP®

Brendan Hughes, CFP®

Associate Wealth Advisor

Brendan is an Associate Wealth Advisor in our Morristown office. He's responsible for analyzing the client’s financial picture, preparing recommendations, and supporting Wealth Advisors in developing strategies that help clients reach their goals. Brendan attended Caldwell University, earning his Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems & Business Administration while playing for the men’s soccer team. He holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.

Prior to joining legacy firm RegentAtlantic in 2022, Brendan spent 5 years at Pathstone Family Office working with UHNW clients and institutions. In his free time, he enjoys running after his dogs and spending time with his family. He is also an avid New Jersey Devils and New York Giants fan.


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