It’s wedding season: Have you updated your will? Estate planning isn’t at the top of the wedding planning to-do list for newlyweds – but it should be! Once you’re married, your relationship is legally changed. If you took the time to plan the perfect wedding, you should also take the time to protect your spouse’s future. Here are 5 estate planning tips for newlyweds.
1. Medical Decision If They Become Seriously Ill or Incapacitated
If a newlywed becomes ill, who’s going to make medical decisions? A medical power of attorney allows you to name your spouse as your authorized healthcare agent to make health care decisions if you are unable to make and communicate your own decisions. A Health Care POA also allows the agent to choose whether to donate organs and to make burial arrangements.
Do you have adult children or an ex-spouse? If you don’t have a medical POA, in most cases your spouse will be authorized to make medical decisions, but there could be delays (and family conflict) that can be avoided with a healthcare POA.
2. Financial Decisions If They Become Seriously Ill or Incapacitated
If a newlywed becomes ill, who’s going to pay their bills? Do you or your spouse pay child support or alimony? A durable power of attorney lasts indefinitely. In most cases, a durable power of attorney (DPOA) is used to allow the designated person – such as a parent – to handle affairs in a specific area of a person’s life, such as in financial or health matters if you become incapacitated.
3. Beneficiary Designations
Most newlyweds come into the marriage with assets – a life insurance policy, a bank account, a 401(k) and other material goods or money. They may own a car or a condo or a house. Who is going to inherit their assets if they die? A will or trust indicates who you’re leaving your assets to, but many policies need beneficiary designations.
If you have an ex-spouse or adult children, who do you want to inherit your assets: your current spouse, or your ex-spouse?
Many individuals enter into a marriage with debt. You may have personal debt or business debt. Who is responsible for your debt if you die? Will your assets cover your debt? Will all of your assets be depleted by your debt. leaving your spouse with nothing? An estate planning attorney can advise you on how to protect your spouse if have business and personal debt.
Did you bring a cherished pet into your marriage – that your spouse doesn’t particularly care for? In Illinois, concerned pet owners can now set aside funds for the care of their animals, and can designate a trustee to manage the fund for the care, support and medical needs of their pets. You also can name the physical custodian of your pet.
These estate planning tips for newlyweds are one more thing to add to your to-do list. If you are recently married – or about to get married – take the time to discuss your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can review with you your assets, your responsibilities and the best ways to protect the future of your loved ones.
Estate planning is not the first thing newlyweds think of when they’re planning their marriage – but it should be. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you ensure you are protected if you become ill and your assets are distributed how you want. For help setting up a will, trust and other estate planning assistance, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.