Getting married is an exciting time. However, when you enter a new marriage, it is easy to overlook estate planning, especially when you are excited to begin a new life together. But making an estate plan with your new spouse is just as important as other shared commitments such as buying a home, opening joint bank accounts and discussing financial goals.
The goal is to make sure that your estate plan is up to date and reflects the intentions and priorities of both spouses. Then, as your family grows, and asset values increase, you can easily amend it as needed. So, instead of an unpleasant task to be put off, making an estate plan together is really one more way to say, “I do”.
Newlywed Estate Planning Checklist
Here is a checklist of estate planning items and tasks for newlyweds to guide you in your decisions:
- Review any existing wills or trusts either of you had before marriage and decide how to handle changing or keeping them in your new estate plan. For example, if you had a trust for support of children from a previous marriage, you may want to make your new spouse trustee.
- If either spouse changed their name, then you will need to change the name on any existing accounts, titles or other legal documents.
- Make a list of all separate bank and investment accounts, and begin the process changing them to joint ownership if that is what you want to do. Joint accounts are much easier to deal with when one spouse passes away.
- Research life insurance policies to protect your spouse and children in the future. It is much less expensive to by policies when you are younger.
- Each of you should have an advance directive for health care, giving the other a power of attorney to make medical decisions in the event of injury or illness.
- Decide if you want to keep property acquired before the marriage separate, such as house or vehicle.
A new marriage is a happy event and by making an estate plan together you are affirming the importance of your shared future and family’s financial security. The first step is to make an appointment with an estate planning attorney who can help you review documents and explain your options and choices.