When married couples are similar ages, estate planning is typically a joint process. The couples are like-minded when it comes to their property and beneficiaries. When a couple has a significant age difference, however, the estate planning process can be a little more complicated, as the couple may have different priorities or ideas about the distribution of their assets. In today’s blog, we’re sharing some estate planning advice and posing questions that couples should consider.
Organize and Update Your Shared Accounts
One of the first steps in estate planning is to get your paperwork organized. Make sure you have your medical, financial, and business documents organized all in one place. This can include regular bills, account statements, tax returns, medical records, insurance information, and a list of important contacts (ex: accountant, doctor, lawyer). You may want to store the paperwork in a fireproof lockbox.
Once you have consolidated your documents, check to ensure that the bills and accounts are updated. Check the users listed, the beneficiaries, and everyone’s contact information. Make sure that both spouses understand the recurring bills and from which account to pay them.
Managing Your Finances
For your estate plan to work, you need to have an honest conversation about current and future finances. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Is either spouse still working? If one or both decides to retire, how might that impact your income and insurance coverage?
- Have you met with an accountant about your future finances? Can you afford to support your lifestyle on one or fewer monthly paychecks?
- Do you have a plan in place concerning minimum distributions from your retirement accounts? Will both of you be using the funds from the retirement account?
- How do you plan to spend your retirement? Are you planning on joint or separate ventures?
Creating an Estate Plan
An estate plan will help guarantee that your loved ones will be taken care of and that your property and investments will be distributed as per your wishes. Here are a few questions to consider when crafting your estate plan.
- Who will be your Power of Attorney? Do you want your Power of Attorney to handle all of your financial, legal, and real estate decisions – or would you prefer to name separate Powers of Attorney for these different areas?
- When do you want your Power of Attorney paperwork to take effect?
- Who will be your Medical Power of Attorney (the person relaying your medical preferences)? Have you named them in your Advance Directive for Health Care?
- What if your designated Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney cannot act on your behalf? Do you have backup individuals in mind?
- Who will be your beneficiaries? Will they inherit your assets outright, or will they have to meet certain conditions?
- How will your children inherit from your estate? If you have children, adopted children, and/or step-children, will they all be treated equally in your estate plan?
Once you have completed your estate plan, it’s important to revisit the documents every few years or after a major life event. You want to make sure your designations match your current family structure and wishes.
Have Questions? Contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates
If you have questions about creating an estate plan that protects your life’s work and your loved ones, please reach out to Brian M. Douglas & Associates. Our team of experienced estate planning and probate attorneys will be happy to walk you through your best options. To schedule a consultation, you can reach us at (770) 933-9009 or use our online contact form.