Choosing colors, cakes, decorations, and invitations can seem daunting, but once the big day is over, there are other important considerations. Whether or not it’s your first walk down the aisle, it’s important to nail down particular aspects of your estate planning during this pivotal time.
Estate planning isn’t just for those with more experience under their belt. Estate planning is for everyone—especially those who are married. This article is geared towards first-time marriages and will overview estate planning documents newlyweds should have. Creating an estate plan can be a bit costly up-front but will save time and money later. It’s beneficial to begin your life together on the right foot. Compared to planning a wedding, your estate planning is a piece of cake. As promised, here are 10 estate planning tips for newlyweds.
- Talk with your significant other about the importance of estate planning.
Talking about planning for the worst parts of life can feel scary and overwhelming. However, it’s one of the most important things you can do to have peace of mind for yourself, spouse, and family members. Share the importance of estate planning and why it’s necessary for the two of you to create or update your documents.
- Compile important documents.
These documents include your marriage certificate, birth certificates, social security cards, passports, armed forces IDs, citizenship documentation, prenuptial and postnuptial documents, and any documents relating to children you may have. Also, track down existing estate planning documents you may have. These documents include but aren’t limited to trusts, trust amendments, last will and testaments, powers of attorney, and assignments of assets. Compile financial information, including the names and approximate balances of banking, retirement, life insurance, and other accounts.
- Gather information about your assets.
Compile deeds of homes and rental properties, titles of vehicles, collectibles, and other valuable items of personal property. If you don’t have all this information readily accessible, your estate planning attorney may be able to help track down information about your home or investment properties. Your attorney should have a questionnaire to assist in gathering and organizing this information. Don’t forget to reach out and ask for this questionnaire. Whether you have a lot of assets or you’re just starting your career, estate planning is essential.
- Talk with your significant other about your estate planning goals.
Your goals may include leaving a specific asset to a person or group of people or charity, providing for a special needs child, protecting assets from potential litigation, appointing guardians for your children, and appointing guardians for yourself. A skilled estate planning attorney will have solutions for any potential planning concerns. Your attorney should also talk with you about the benefits of avoiding probate, protecting your privacy, avoiding guardianship or conservatorship, heading off a will contest, facilitating post-death sale or development of the real estate, and flexible terms of your documents.
- Review insurance coverage.
Newly married couples should review their insurance coverage and needs soon after the honeymoon. Coverage needs change when combining or creating families. Often both spouses are needed to continue paying for household expenses. Be sure to meet with your trusted insurance agent to review your current coverage. This will prevent a surviving spouse’s already difficult situation from becoming worse under unfortunate circumstances. Your estate planning attorney can help identify opportunities to add or change insurance policies in tax-conscious ways.
- Find a skilled estate planning attorney.
Estate planning is a complex area of law. It’s important to choose an attorney with experience and knowledge to draft the best estate planning documents possible. You can use websites like Avvo, Martindale, and Google to find an experienced attorney near you. It’s also helpful to ask friends and family who they recommend or uses for their estate planning.
- Create wills and trust.
A well-drafted will or trust is usually the starting point in implementing a sound estate plan. An attorney can pinpoint potential problems in your existing documents and make recommendations to correct these problems. A properly drafted will or trust will assist in minimizing estate taxes and maximizing the value of your estate that passes to your heirs. You decide who your beneficiaries will be in these documents, determine the guardian to your minor children, and facilitate a smooth transition upon the incapacity or passing of either you or your spouse. If properly created and funded, these documents will transfer your estate to your beneficiaries without the cost and delay of probate.
- Create financial powers of attorney.
Financial powers of attorney are important documents in the event you or your spouse become so ill you cannot make financial decisions. The person you nominate will have the power to pay your bills, access your bank accounts, and pay for your expenses if you are unable.
- Create healthcare powers of attorney.
As a United States citizen, you have the right to control the medical treatment you receive. However, if you are unconscious or mentally incapacitated, your ability to exercise that right is severely affected. Many states, including Nevada, have enacted Healthcare Powers of Attorney statutes. These documents ensure your specific desires regarding your medical treatment are honored if you are unable to communicate your wishes. They not only provide you peace of mind but will protect your loved ones from making these difficult and deeply personal choices for you. Your healthcare power of attorney will include your desires regarding artificial life support and the removal of life support. For this form to be honored, it must be considered effective under your state’s laws. This means it must be drafted and executed in a specific way with a specific language. A validly drafted and executed healthcare power of attorney offers peace of mind by guaranteeing your medical treatment wishes are honored.
- Fund your trust.
Once your will, trust, and other documents are properly drafted and executed, it’s essential to fund your trust. Funding your trust includes transferring most of your assets to your trust by changing the “owner” of your bank account, home, and other assets from yourself to your trust. For tax purposes, some accounts should not be titled in the name of your trust. Your estate planning attorney should have substantial tax experience and will guide you through this process.
While the above tips for your newlywed estate planning may seem a little daunting, the process can be made quite simple with guidance from your estate planning, insurance, and investment professionals. Contact them shortly after you return from your honeymoon to begin this process.
At Jeffrey Burr, LTD., our focus is providing excellent estate planning and tax guidance. We provide services to local Nevadans, as well as U.S. and non-U.S. residents outside Nevada. We offer a complimentary 30-minute consultation for potential estate planning clients. Contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.