Summer wedding season is almost here. If you are about to tie the knot or already have, be sure to include estate planning on your pre- or post-wedding to-do list. In this article, we will discuss estate planning considerations for newlyweds and couples who plan to say ‘I do’ soon.
Just Married? Here Are Some Estate Planning Tips for Newlyweds
While thinking about being potentially incapacitated or your eventual death isn’t exactly romantic, it is important to draft or update your estate plan to include your new partner. If you or your significant other were to get in an accident on your honeymoon or even before your wedding, you both would want the other person to have the power to make healthcare decisions on your behalf and be protected in your will.
To start estate planning, you and your partner should discuss why estate planning is important and generally discuss your wishes. You should then consider:
- Reviewing and/or updating the beneficiary of important accounts. When you create a checking or savings account, an insurance policy, trust, or other major accounts, you can name an account beneficiary. You should review who you have listed and consider whether you want to update the account (and name your partner as a beneficiary). Be sure to review all of your important accounts—anything from your pension plan and military benefits to your property deeds and titles, and don’t be afraid to be honest about assets or accounts that you would like to leave to other people, such as your children, siblings, charities, etc.
- Drafting or updating your will. While crafting a will may seem daunting, you did make it through wedding planning, which is a detailed and lengthy process. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can easily create or update a legally valid will that accounts for your partner.
- Dictating powers of attorneys and/or medical directives. In sickness and in health, right? To ensure your spouse can make medical and financial decisions on your behalf (if you are incapacitated), you should make or updated medical and financial powers of attorney.
- Making arrangements for children and/or pets. If you all are parents or pet owners, you should name a guardian (i.e. the person who would take care of them in your absence). You may also consider establishing a trust or drafting other estate planning documents that protect their financial future and/or inheritance.
- Making decisions about digital assets. In addition to sharing important passwords or account information, you should think about what will happen to your social media accounts and online assets. Some apps allow you to name a “legacy contact,” which allows the named party to manage someone’s account if something happens to them.
Estate Planning FAQs | Newlyweds
If you have questions about estate planning or need help drafting the documents, you should speak with an attorney. They can best answer your questions with consideration of your unique circumstances. However, here are answers to some general estate planning questions asked by newly married couples.
- Does my spouse automatically inherit everything? If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to intestate laws. In this scenario, your spouse would inherit everything unless you also have surviving children (who are not descendants of both you and your spouse) or surviving grandchildren.
- Should we have two wills? Both spouses should have their own will drafted. You and your spouse can have separate or joint wills. You should consult with your attorney to determine what the best option is for you both.
- What are mirror wills and should we have one? Mirror wills are will that two individuals have that contain nearly identical provisions; many married couples opt to have mirror wills. Whether you both draft mirror wills is again dependent on your goals and needs.
- Should we have the same executor? You can opt to name the same person as executor. If you name different people, consider how they would work together if you both die in the same accident.
- Can I change or update my will without my spouse knowing? In most cases, you can change your will without informing your spouse. However, if you are involved in a divorce or another legal matter that involves your assets, you will have to wait until the conclusion of the proceedings to make any changes.
Get Legal Help
At Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, we offer clients comprehensive estate planning services. Our experienced estate planning attorney Kimberly Cutler is dedicated to helping clients have their affairs in order and achieve their wishes and goals. If you have recently gotten married or experienced another major life event (i.e adopted a child, gotten divorced, etc.), we are here to help you craft or update your estate plan.
To schedule a case consultation, reach out online or telephone us at (937) 403-9033.