Congratulations on your marriage! We know that the first things you have in mind when you get married have nothing to do with estate planning; however, it is a good idea to tackle it sooner rather than later. In this article we will talk about some essential estate planning issues you should address.
Change your account beneficiaries.
This is the quickest thing to tackle while working on your estate planning needs. Sit down with your spouse and talk about the options and preferences on the designations for your accounts such as insurance policies, bank accounts, investments accounts, 401(k) plans, IRAs, or health savings accounts. Keep in mind that some of the updates you wish to make may require a notarized acknowledgement.
Also, you should consider adding a second beneficiary just in case both of you should pass away.
Second thing would be updating your will(s) and trust(s), if there are any.
You and your spouse should talk about how you want your assets to be distributed. If one or both of you had a will or trust prior to getting married, it is a good idea to revisit it. Have a conversation and see what changes would make the most sense for both of you. Adding detailed instructions to the will can be a good idea, in case you both pass. If you did not have a trust in place before, this might be the time to get one started that can grow and change as does your family and financial situation.
Do not forget about Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies.
When couples say “I do”, they say “for better or for worse.” When these “for worse” situations arise, it is better to be prepared. When you designate each other as your agent under your Durable power of attorney and Health Care Proxy, you will allow your spouse to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
As for establishing a Health Care Proxy, you and your spouse should know each other’s wishes in respect to medical situations. If a health event arises where you are unable to make decisions for yourself, your spouse should know the answer to questions like “Would you want to be kept on life support as long as possible?” or “Would you like to exhaust all medical options?” This may be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation. However, talking about your wishes in advance and putting your wishes in writing will make an already difficult experience a little bit easier to process.
Protect your children/future children if you are thinking of expanding you family.
You should consider protecting your children or future children, thinking about how to provide for them in case you and/or your spouse pass away or become incapacitated. As part of your estate plan, you should designate a guardian to care for them and make decisions regarding their health, their education, and their finances.
While estate planning is rarely anyone’s favorite subject, planning for the worst will give your new family the gift of security and protection.