One of the first things you and your soon-to-be spouse think of after getting engaged is planning the wedding and how your future will be with one another. Most likely, the last thing on your mind is your estate plan.
However, an estate plan is critical when a significant life change happens – such as getting married. Whether you have one already or you have none, there is no better time to start planning your future by creating an estate plan.
Should a Plainview Couple Draft a Will Before or after They Get Married?
The most prominent question couples ask is when they should start creating their estate plan. If you plan to get married, you need to review the process. You will also want to update areas of your will or start thinking about these areas for your new will, including your power of attorney, advance directive for healthcare, and beneficiaries.
You can create an estate plan before or after the wedding. Some couples prefer to handle estate plans after nuptials, while others want to finish theirs before the big day so that it is one less thing to work on.
If you do create the estate plan before officially saying “I do,” you should have a provision that states your intent that the marriage does not revoke the will.
What Should You Update on a Will after You Are Married?
One of the biggest things you must do is update your beneficiaries. Not only should you do this on your estate plan, but also any death benefit designations you made on your retirement account, bank accounts, and investment accounts. These override any beneficiaries in your will. Therefore, if you have a parent or sibling listed as your beneficiary, your spouse would not receive the benefit.
Have a Detailed Conversation
You also need an in-depth conversation about what you want with each other, how you want to split assets among your beneficiaries, and who should make the big decisions if one were to become incapacitated. After all, you are now blending families, and your list of potential beneficiaries (until you have children) will differ from what you would have considered when you were single.
You both should also consider what would happen if you both were to pass away and if you want to select secondary beneficiaries to your estate.
Update Your Will or Create a New One
If neither of you has an estate plan, now is the time to create one. If you or your future spouse has an estate plan, you will need to update it to reflect the marriage and any changes. Talk about how you want assets split if something were to happen to one or both of you.
While the subject might bring a negative light to your happiest day, it is something you still need to discuss. Think of the positive aspect of having a well-drafted estate plan rather than the negatives. You should consider it a piece of reassurance that your loved ones will be taken care of if something were to happen.
Do Not Forget Your Power of Attorney
You must make sure your power of attorney and advance medical directive is updated; otherwise, your spouse may not have the input or power that you intended for them to have.
Without a durable power of attorney, your spouse cannot handle financial affairs, including managing accounts that are in your name or accessing funds.
Likewise, you will want to have an advance directive that names a party responsible for your healthcare decisions when you become incapacitated and cannot make those decisions on your own. A spouse is typically the party named on these documents. However, you may want to name a backup in the event you and your spouse are incapacitated or injured at the same time.
Consider a Trust
You and your spouse might enter the marriage with a sizeable estate. If so, you may want to start the process of creating a trust for your assets. This can include any property you own separately or that you will have during your marriage, accounts you combine, and investments.
Furthermore, trusts offer more protection for you and your spouse. They provide you with privacy, too, and save your loved ones from the hassles of going through probate court.
Title Your Assets Correctly
Make sure you title your assets so that your spouse is reflected in those documents. While joint tenancy will give the rights of survivorship to your spouse, it does not provide a power of attorney.
Select an Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you want to take care of your estate plan before, or you would like to wait until after the big day, at least start thinking about your estate plan and what you need to add or change, and your goals with this very critical document.
Then, start looking for an estate planning attorney in your area. You want someone who will help you create an estate plan for you and your spouse that protects your assets before your marriage as well as those assets you gain throughout your relationship.
Likewise, you want to make sure that you can provide for one another if the unspeakable were to occur.
The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., can assist you with your estate planning needs. Whether you each have an estate plan that now must be re-drafted into one or you are starting from scratch together, we can help you.
Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., will meet with you during an initial consultation to go over your expectations, gather documents, and help create a plan. Then, you will work closely with him and his team to devise an estate plan that not only helps today, but protects you and your family as it grows and moves into the future.
To get started, schedule a free case evaluation by calling or requesting more information online.