Wedding season might be winding down, but your journey as newlyweds is just beginning. Amid all the wedding planning and celebrations, there's one crucial step that often gets overlooked: estate planning. I know, it might sound a bit out of place amidst all the joy and happiness, but trust us, creating an estate plan is one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give to your new spouse.
Why, you ask? Well, because once you tie the knot, a lot changes legally, but not automatically. Things like how you want your finances managed or who should make medical decisions for you aren't automatically sorted when you say "I do."
Imagine this: You become incapacitated before you've put together your estate plan. Your spouse wouldn't have the legal authority to make medical decisions for you, access your bank accounts, or even protect the home and possessions you've built together in case of your passing. It's a scenario nobody wants to think about, but it's crucial to ensure your wishes are honored, no matter what the future holds.
So, what can you do about it? Well, here are six essential estate planning tools you need to get started on right now.
1. Updated Beneficiary Designations
This one's a no-brainer. Make sure to update your beneficiary designations, especially for assets like life insurance policies, 401(k)s, and IRAs. These assets don't transfer via a will or trust but rely on beneficiary designations.
Don't wait until your entire estate plan is in place. If you want your spouse to inherit these assets, proactively name them as the primary beneficiary. And remember, never name a minor child as a beneficiary; create a Trust for them instead.
2. A Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Estate planning isn't just about what happens after you're gone; it's also about preparing for unexpected life events. If you become incapacitated and haven't legally granted your spouse the authority to manage your financial and legal affairs, they might have to go through a cumbersome court process.
A Durable Financial Power of Attorney gives your spouse the immediate authority to handle your finances, taxes, government benefits, and more, in case you can't. This document is especially vital if you don't live in one of the community property states.
3. A Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will
Your spouse should be able to make medical decisions for you if you can't communicate your wishes. A Power of Attorney for Health Care ensures they can do just that. It's an essential document to avoid the stress and conflict of court guardianship proceedings.
Combine this with a Living Will to clearly express your preferences for medical care, especially toward the end of life. Having your wishes documented can provide immense relief to your spouse during difficult times.
Now, we get it. Talking about finances and death shortly after your wedding might feel heavy. But we're here to guide you through this conversation in a way that feels natural and open. After all, this is about securing your future together.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we'll dive even deeper into estate planning essentials for newlyweds. And if you're ready to take the next step, don't hesitate to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session™ with us. We'll help you get financially organized and make the best choices for your loved ones.
Remember, this journey is about building a life together, and a solid estate plan is your way of ensuring that life is protected and cherished, no matter what comes your way.
This article is a service of Jacklyn Truppa at Dynasty Law, LLC. We're not just about documents; we're about informed and empowered decisions for life and beyond. Reach out today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session™ and take control of your future.
As always, please remember that this material is for educational and informational purposes only. For specific legal advice tailored to your needs, consult a professional separately from this educational material.