By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
June 20, 2019
Estate Planning Steps for Newlyweds
So much planning goes into a wedding, it makes sense that newlyweds feel like they’re set once their vows have been spoken. After all, didn’t you sign on the dotted line of that marriage certificate? It’s technically a contract.
However, there are a lot of things not legally covered by “till death do you part.” Especially where your estate is concerned.
Here are four of the most important steps newlyweds should take after to make sure their assets are still going where they want them to.
Create a Will or Trust
Creating individual last wills and testaments is the bare minimum any newlywed couple should do. If you’ve already got one, it’s time to make updates.
A will is the simplest way for you to offer your surviving family members guidance upon your passing. It takes the guess work out of an already difficult moment for your survivors.
Why consider a trust? Because it not only outlines how you’d like your assets distributed upon your death, it also allows you to decide when. Additionally, there are various tax and cost benefits a trust can offer that a will cannot offer. Additionally, they are typically executed in and remain private documents, and without the delays faced with probate court proceedings or access by third parties, like clerks, case managers, judges, attorneys, bankers, etc.
Of course, there are benefits and drawbacks to each, so it’s something every couple should evaluate individually.
Power of Attorney
Unless you’ve been in a situation where you experienced a temporary loss of faculty, a power of attorney probably isn’t something you’ve given much thought to. However, they are a vital component of planning your estate together.
Although POAs are fairly simple documents to execute, deciding on how decisions will be made in the event that you cannot make them yourself can be a bit complicated. You will appoint someone based on the types of decisions that need to be made (medical vs. financial, for instance), and decide exactly how much power to give them – and for how long they may have it.
These are especially important appointments when entering into a blended family.
Name Changes and Other Updates
Perhaps one of you is opting to take the other’s name. Or both of you are doing it. Or neither. Whatever your situation, we’re sure this is one topic of estate planning you’ve thought (and talked), plenty about!
For those who choose to make the change, the process can be both tedious and time consuming. Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a way to have all forms of identification updated in one fell swoop. Some processes have been digitized, but those requiring higher security demand that you appear in the flesh to have them updated.
Even if you don’t intend to change your name, you will still have a few changes to make. In addition to your everyday financial accounts and policies – checking, savings, health insurance, etc. – the most common types of assets and accounts newlyweds update are those requiring a beneficiary, such as life insurance policies, wills, and trusts; real estate holdings; and retirement funds.
Set a Review Date
Once you’ve cycled through the initial estate planning to-do list, immediately set a review date with your advisors so you can make sure you’re on the same track in a year.
It’s likely unnecessary to meet more than annually. Even when something occurs in the interim, in most cases, a quick check-in should do the trick until you meet again.
Interested in learning more? Feel like you have a newlywed estate planning issue specific to your situation? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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