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.
Before we begin, we want to emphasize the impact of not doing any of these things now that you are married. Should something unpredictable happen to you or your spouse, such as one of you ending up unconscious in the hospital or even losing your life in a sudden accident, your exact wishes for that time may not be followed. You may not receive the medical treatment you prefer, or your loved one may not be allowed to make medical decisions on your behalf. They may not even have access to your bank accounts or your house in the unfortunate event of your death.
Estate planning is for everyone, but it’s especially vital for married couples. Now that you have just married and are starting a new life together, it’s the best time to get your affairs in order.
Here are the 5 estate planning preparations you need to 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 acknowledgment.
Also, you should consider adding a second beneficiary just in case both of you should pass away.
Update your will(s) and trust(s)
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 before 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.
Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies
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 concerning 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.
Name your children/ future children’s guardian
Protect your children/future children if you are thinking of expanding your 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.
Consolidate accounts and other assets
Do you or your spouse own real estate prior to the marriage? If the answer is yes, then it’s important to think about whether you both want to co-own the property. This principle extends to residences, vehicles, or any other assets with titles.
While estate planning is rarely anyone’s favorite subject, planning for the worst will give your new family the gift of security and protection. Need help getting your and your new spouse’s affairs in order? At The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen, we’ll make sure your new life together with your spouse is secure with the right estate plans in place. Talk to us today!