As you likely have experienced, getting married brings lots of changes to your estate plan, so updates are needed. As life changes, your estate plan must also change to reflect your current personal and financial situation as well as current law. As a benefit of updating, you also will benefit from newly established planning techniques as well.
If you’ve recently gotten married or are preparing to do so:
Consult with a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney
No doubt about it, you and your new spouse will need to totally revamp your estate plans when you get married, or, in preparation of marriage. This is not a path to go alone.
Health Care Documents
You likely want to name your new spouse as your agent under your health care proxy. Your agent can make health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot. In addition, discuss your wishes for a living will and organ donation with your spouse; then, get your wishes in writing.
Consider naming your new spouse as your agent under your financial power of attorney and as a trustee of your revocable living trust. As in all estate planning documents, name contingent trusted helpers as well; don’t just name your spouse.
Passing Financial Assets
If your spouse is dependent upon your income and assets, be sure to make your spouse a beneficiary of your will or trust, retirement plans, life insurance, pensions, and annuities. However, if you have children from a previous relationship, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to balance these interests; otherwise, you might unintentionally disinherit your children.
Chat with your spouse about what is important to you regarding final arrangements. Do you want the body to be buried, cremated, or both? Do you want certain people invited, a specific clergy person to speak, or a special song to be sung?
Write your spouse (and other loved ones) a love letter and keep it with your estate planning documents and other important papers. It will create a lasting legacy and, likely, become the most treasured inheritance.
If you’ve recently gotten married or are about to, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to update your estate plan.