After becoming newlyweds, a couple is no longer just two individuals but rather a family. They want to look out for their family, right?
That means a lot more than just setting up house and joint bank accounts. It also means making sure their estate plan will provide for the both spouses and their growing family.
Sure, it is not the most romantic thing in the world, but it is important, just as much as the other practical tasks needed to getting yourself established as a family.
Writing or Updating The Will
Most single people do not have their own will either due to the fact that they simply do not have any assets or believe that estate documents are needed unless they have children.
This fact could not be any further from the truth. A person does not need to have children or a ton of money to need a will. If someone dies without a will in place, he or she is said to have died intestate, and all assets and debts are handled per state law.
This means he or she cannot control who gets his or her assets and cannot guarantee that his or her assets will go to the new spouse. Everyone needs to prepare a will and estate plan that takes into account both involved and ensure that both are protected.
If each spouse had an individual will, each spouse will then need to rewrite his or her plan to take into account the two of as one marital unit.
Discuss Dependents and Pets
The parties may not enter into the marriage with children, but what if one does have prior children? Many marriages blend two families into one, and for these individuals, consideration of their children from previous relationships is important.
Does he or she want to protect his or her assets for these children and not the new spouse in the event of death?
The parties can enter into the marriage with a prenuptial agreement protecting his or her assets for these prior-born children or he or she can have this handled in his or her will. The spouse will have a legal right in most situations still elect to have a share of the estate, but this can at least ensure that any previous children are protected.
The same would go for pets. If the parties are not sure whether a new spouse will keep the pet he or she has from before marriage, he or she will want to ensure that someone does take the pet if something happens to him or her.
Update All Beneficiary Designations
Each spouse likely already has beneficiaries listed for retirement accounts, as well as life insurance, but they may have other individuals, other than their spouse listed as beneficiary. He or she may choose to keep these beneficiary designations, or he or she may want to change them to have the new spouse listed as primary beneficiary instead.
It is extremely important that each lets the other spouse know all of the accounts each has and discuss who should be the beneficiary of each account. The spouses may choose to not list each other as beneficiary, but it should be a discussion between them.
Write or Update Medical Directives or Powers of Attorney
These two documents are arguably just as important as the will. A power of attorney directs who will make financial or legal decisions on a person’s behalf in the event he or she is incapacitated, and a medical directive gives authority for someone to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in the event he or she is unable to do so.
It is recommended that spouses talk about who would be given this authority as well as successors in the event the spouse is not available. If they have these documents already and wish to change their designations to their new spouse, now is the time to do this.
Update Home Ownership Information
If parties came into the marriage with a home or any other property titled solely in their names, they will want to ensure that the spouse is also listed on the property.
Home ownership should always be a discussion prior to marriage. If a home was purchased prior to marriage together make sure that spouses are legally joint owners of the property.
Also, spouse should look into their state’s homestead laws to see how they could benefit from any property tax breaks.
Contact Brian M. Douglas, LLC today
If you are not sure you need an attorney, you can always come in for a consultation to discuss your situation.
Call us today at (770) 933-9009 or contact us online to schedule your consultation with a Greater Atlanta area probate lawyer.