Depending on when you marry in life, you and your partner may already have a will. Even so, it is a good idea to revisit estate planning as a couple after the wedding.
What’s in a Will?
Your last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to clearly communicate your wishes as to how your property is to be distributed after your death and as to which person is to manage the property until it’s final distribution. A complete last will and testament should clearly outline the following:
- The Executor or Personal Representative: the people you appoint to carry out the provisions of your will upon your death.
- The Beneficiaries: the people who will be inheriting your assets
- Instructions for How and When to distribute the Assets
- Guardians for Minor Children: the people you wish to legally care for your children if you become incapacitated or pass away
But wait, there’s more!
In addition to a last will and testament, there are several other important documents to include with your estate plan to ensure that the people you have directed to carry out your wishes are legally able to do so.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances should you be unable to do so for yourself. A general practice is to provide this person with all the legal authority over your finances that you hold, so that they may truly act on your behalf.
Healthcare directives are a compilation of three specific documents intended to clearly communicate your healthcare and end of life desires.
- Healthcare power of attorney: this document allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself.
- Living will: in this document, you can specifically outline any healthcare services you wish to receive, or perhaps, more importantly, those you DO NOT wish to receive.
- HIPPA Authorization: this document allows you to name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your healthcare provider or insurance company has no reservations about sharing your protected medical information with them.
Perhaps the easiest way to plan for your estate is to name beneficiaries on all accounts where such a designation is possible. In general, this means that the assets held in that account will pass to the person(s) you name upon your death, most likely your new spouse. Common accounts that allow for beneficiary designation include:
- Bank Accounts
- Retirement Plans
- Life Insurance Policies
Hire An Attorney
Do-it-yourself estate planning services might seem like an inexpensive and “good enough” option. However, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to help create legal documents. The do-it-yourself forms rarely account for the specific needs of couples.
If you and your spouse are interested in creating an estate plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney, may offer free one-hour consultations.