One of the most important things you need to do after getting married is to make sure that your estate plan will protect your new family. To accomplish this, you will need to update all of your legal documents to reflect your decisions about important issues that will affect your family’s future. Below, we explain 5 things that you should do to plan your estate after getting married.
Make a Will
Your first step should be to make a will that dictates how you want your assets to be distributed to your family members and other individuals you choose to include. Many couples who have just married don’t think that making a will should be one of their top priorities. Often, young couples assume that because they don’t have very many assets, they don’t need to worry about it. However, when someone dies without a will, their assets are distributed in accordance with state law, which means their belongings aren’t guaranteed to go their spouse or family members. Having a will in place will ensure that your possessions are distributed in accordance with your wishes. If you have already made a will, you need to update it to include your new spouse, even if you already have a prenuptial agreement in place.
Update Designated Beneficiaries
If you or your spouse have a 401k or IRA account, you need to update who the beneficiary is for those accounts. You should also do the same for any life insurance policies you might have. This is crucial because beneficiary designations carry more weight than a will when it comes to these types of accounts. For all of your bank accounts, make sure to designate a Joint Rights of Survivorship for each account with the bank. You should talk to your spouse about which person should be the beneficiary of each account.
Update Homeownership Paperwork
When a couple gets married, one or both of the partners will bring their existing property into the marriage. Other times, the couple will purchase property together before or after their wedding. Whatever the circumstances are, it is important to have a conversation about whose name should be on the homeownership documents.
Dictate Powers of Attorney & Medical Directives
Now that you have married the person who will weather all of life’s ups and downs with you, you need to ensure that they will be able to speak on your behalf if you are ever in a situation where you are unable to express your own wishes. Making or updating medical and financial powers of attorney will ensure that your significant other can advocate for your wishes when you are unable to do so yourself.
Make Arrangements for Any Children & Pets
If you will be caring for your spouse’s children now that you are married, your estate planning documents should be updated to reflect how you want your assets to be distributed within the structure of your new family. Additionally, if you and your spouse have pets, you should consider making a pet trust or discuss other ways of providing for your pets if one or both of you don’t have the ability to do so yourselves.
Do you need help creating a new estate plan? Contact our Irving estate planning attorney to discuss how we can help you today.