Starting a life together is an exciting time, and you and your new spouse have probably spent plenty of time planning for your wedding, your first home, your careers, and more. One plan you probably have not made, however, is your estate plans. While we hope these plans won’t need to be used for many, many years, it is never too soon to protect yourself and your finances. Now that the honeymoon is over, it’s time to sit down with your spouse and take the following estate planning steps together.
1. Change Your Beneficiaries
If your life insurance and retirement accounts are managed by your employer, it’s time to take a visit to HR. Check in with your company’s human resources personnel or their online portal, and update your beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement accounts with your new spouse’s name—if you intend them to be your recipient.
2. Consider Life Insurance
If you don’t have a life insurance account through your company (or a retirement account, for that matter), it’s time to consider a change. Life insurance is a valuable protection in the event of the unthinkable, and can offer your spouse some financial protection. Getting life insurance is far easier and cheaper to get when you’re young. If you want to add a life insurance policy on top of your company-managed policy or expand your coverage, it’s best to do it while you’re still young and healthy.
Similarly, if you don’t have a retirement account, you can set up a personal account, such as a Roth IRA, that you contribute to on your own. When setting up your own retirement account, don’t forget to list your spouse as the beneficiary.
3. Make Your Will
Even if you don’t have much in the way of assets at this point in your life, it’s still important to make sure that what you do have goes to the right person in the event of your passing. Talk to an estate planning attorney about creating a will or trust that will protect your finances and spouse. If you have a prenuptial agreement, it’s important that your will reflects the terms of that agreement, too. It’s not enough to just have a prenuptial agreement to dictate what happens to your estate after your passing. You should also have a will that will enforce these terms.
4. Arrange Durable Powers of Attorney & Advance Directives
Your spouse doesn’t have the absolute right to make decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. While this can allow you to choose who has this power, it also can make it very difficult for your loved ones if you are unable to make these decisions. You and your spouse must both decide who will have financial, legal, and medical authority if you are incapacitated, and execute the correct legal documents. For financial and legal matters, this is known as a “durable power of attorney.” When it comes to healthcare matters, it is known as “advance directives.” If you choose to name each other, be sure to also list an alternate, in case you both become injured or ill.
5. Talk About Home Ownership Options
If you have purchased a home prior to the marriage, or your home is in only one person’s name, it’s important to discuss how you will proceed with your home’s documentation. There are many arrangements possible, and each arrangement has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some may help you save money on property taxes, while others can offer better protection from probate and creditors. Talk with an estate planning attorney to find the best option for your unique needs.
Ready to take the next steps together? Our Katy family law attorneys are here to help. At Adams Law Firm, we’re backed by more than 35 years of legal experience and we’re prepared to offer you personalized legal services for all your family law needs. Discuss your case today with our legal team.
Contact our firm today by calling (281) 764-6087.