5 Estate Planning Steps for Newlyweds

1. Draft a Will:

Single people may not believe they need a will because they do not have a spouse or children. This of course changes when you get married. A will can ensure your spouse receives the property you owned prior to marriage and your half of any property acquired during the marriage, as well as other assets. If you have a child from a prior marriage, then the property you owned prior to your current marriage may not go to your current spouse. A will allows you, and not the state, to determine how your property will be distributed. Newlyweds should consider having wills drafted.

2. Obtain Life Insurance Policies:

When couples depend on two incomes, their financial life can take a serious hit when one spouse passes away. You may believe that your spouse will inherit all your property, but as mentioned above, that is not necessary the case if you have children from a prior relationship. In addition, the child support obligation you are paying does not end when you die. Your estate will be responsible for paying the child support all at once. This means there will be less for your surviving spouse to inherit. A life insurance policy naming your child from a prior relationship as a beneficiary can alleviate the financial burden your surviving spouse may face upon your death. However, you may want to leave the proceeds from the life insurance to a trust so the court can determine the amount of accelerated child support you owe and then your surviving spouse can receive the remaining funds in the trust.

3. Change Retirement Plans:

Prior to your marriage you may have been contributing to your employer’s 401K program and named beneficiaries. You should change the beneficiary on the plan if you intend for your spouse to inherit your retirement plan.

4. Change Title to Property:

Property with a title and bank accounts were likely only in your name before marriage. This property is considered separate property and may not be inherited by your surviving spouse if you do not take appropriate steps. Having your spouse’s name on the title can also make it easier for your spouse to deal with the property upon your death.

5. Draft Ancillary Documents:

In the event you are no longer able to make healthcare decisions for yourself, ancillary documents can assist your spouse.

A medical power of attorney can give your spouse the authority to decide whether to withdraw life support and make other health care decisions. By taking the step of naming your spouse your designee, it could help defend your spouse when your other family members question why your new spouse is permitted to make very serious decisions about your life.

A living will can relieve your spouse of the burden of making decisions about life support because you make the decisions ahead of time with this document.

A durable power of attorney will allow your spouse to use your bank accounts that are still in your name and conduct other business that would normally require you to personally perform. However, the durable power of attorney terminates upon your death.

These are only some of the available ancillary documents you can add to your estate plan. You can learn more about each of these documents in the "Services" tab on our home page.

Contact the Law Office of Hugh Spires, Jr. for advice on the tools available to care and protect your family. You can read more at www.TexasWillsLawyer.com.