If you’ve just gotten married, congratulations! It’s time to think through your estate plan. You and your spouse need to talk with each other about what estate planning tools you want or need. This is also an excellent time to consult with estate planning attorney Dan McKenzie if you live in the Denver area. Dan has considerable experience helping young couples with their estate planning, and can discuss your situation and outline a strategy for you.
Estate planning for newlyweds doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Some of the options to consider include the following:
- Life insurance policies. If you are young and healthy, these are very inexpensive and can provide an excellent source of funds to help the surviving spouse.
- Payable-on-death accounts. Set up your bank accounts so that you designate your spouse as designated beneficiary.
- Qualified retirement accounts. If you have a 401K or other qualified retirement account, your spouse is the beneficiary. Be sure it reflects that you are now married if necessary.
- Update all accounts so that your spouse is now your designated beneficiary.
Draft or Update Your Will
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state law. Don’t assume that your new spouse will receive everything. There are circumstances in which other beneficiaries, such as kids from a previous marriage, where other beneficiaries will receive at least a portion of your estate. To be sure that your estate is distributed in the manner you intend, draft and execute a will.
A will is especially important if you have minor children. It’s the only way to ensure to specify who should serve as guardian of your children.
Consider a Living Trust
Probate can eat up estate costs and take considerable time. One way to avoid it is by holding your assets in a trust rather than in your name individually. By titling your assets to a trust, you can pass your assets to your beneficiaries via a private agreement rather than through the probate process.
Create Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property
A power of attorney (POA) bestows certain rights on the person named to handle your financial and medical affairs should you become incapacitated or mentally incompetent. You can limit its scope if you wish, so that agent can only exercise certain powers at certain times. Both you and your spouse should have the ability to make decisions for each other. You may want to check with your lender or financial institutions as many require their own POA forms for you to use.
Execute an Advanced Directive
These are also known as living wills. A living will lets you provide instructions about what should happen if you end up with a terminal condition and are unable to speak for yourself, or if doctors determine you are in a permanent vegetative state.
Double Check the Titling of Your Assets
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get an estate plan in place is by properly titling your assets. Titling your assets jointly with rights of survivorship can ensure that if one of you survives the other, you will maintain those assets without any need for probate. Of course, if you have a trust, you may want to title your assets to that trust. Give us a call to specifically discuss the most appropriate titling strategy for you.
Estate planning for young couples or newlyweds in general is just as important as any other facet of your new life together. By having an experienced trusts and estates attorney like Dan McKenzie handle it, you can be assured that each contingency and option has been discussed and that his office will notify you periodically regarding updates.