Estate Planning For Newlyweds
Saying “I do” means you’ve committed to loving another person for the rest of your life. It also means you are no longer a single person, you now have a family to consider when making financial and estate planning decisions.
Becoming a newlywed is an exciting time in life filled with joyous changes. As you’re beginning to build a life together, a lot of issues will need your consideration such as making vacation plans, considering whether or not to have children and perhaps even renovating your first home together. While all of this is important to a newly married couple, your estate plan is also something that requires consideration and planning. An estate plan is recommended for everyone, especially after any significant life changes – like getting married - and could prove necessary, in even the most unexpected of circumstances! While you never know when something will arise, being prepared is always the best approach.
As newlyweds, now is the right time to start the estate planning process or amend your current plan because you may be combining individual bank accounts, assets, debts and personal possessions. Before you accumulate additional assets or acquire other dependents and beneficiaries, you can lay a solid foundation for your estate planning, which can then be adjusted over time as your family grows and your life together continues to expand.
We’ve discussed financial and legal planning for unmarried couples. Now it’s time to break down what newlyweds should consider after signing that marriage certificate.
Basic Estate Planning Documents
As newlyweds, you will want to have basic estate planning documents in place. Even if you do not have many assets, or dependents to bequeath possessions to, an estate plan is still a very important part of your new life together. A lot of these documents provide guidance for issues that may arise during your lifetime, not just how to distribute your assets upon your death.
Basic estate planning documents include: Last Will & Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Living Will Declaration, Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian, and sometimes, a Revocable (“Living”) Trust and Pour-Over Will.
Some of these documents, such as the Last Will & Testament and Revocable Trust, will provide instructions, to your loved ones and/or the probate court, regarding what you would like done with your assets when you pass away. Without these documents, your assets and debts are handled per state law and how your assets are distributed, and to whom, is not guaranteed to be in line with your final wishes.
The other basic estate planning documents that Kira Doyle Law recommends to everyone, regardless or marital or financial situation, are Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and Living Will Declaration. These documents are important should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions (medical and financial) for yourself. By going through these forms, you can begin to have the crucial discussion with your spouse about end-of-life wishes, and how you would like him or her to act should you become terminally ill. It is also recommended to name a successor/alternate should your spouse be unavailable to make decisions on your behalf.
Once you’re married you may want to consider updating your medical insurance. Employer-sponsored health plans typically offer a 30-day window to update your policy to include your new spouse. A marriage is considered a “life status change” and is an accepted reason for updating your medical benefits outside of an open enrollment period.
Many newlyweds are beginning their life together at the start of their careers, or at least when they still have many years of greater earning potential ahead of them. If something were to happen to one partner, it may be difficult for the other spouse to deal with their new financial situation. A life insurance policy may help to alleviate that burden.
Every home purchased together will require homeowner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance will cover several scenarios regarding your house and real property, but did you know that you can also add your personal tangible property to your policy? As a newlywed, your wedding ring is a cherished symbol of your love. While you never want to be faced with the idea of losing it, having an insurance policy in place can help replace your most cherished valuables, should something occur.
Nowadays, it is common for one or both spouses in a marriage to own real estate in their individual name before joining together in matrimony. If you want your individual property to be jointly owned, consider re-titling your real estate.
When looking to re-title your real estate, you might find that one of the common forms of property ownership in Florida will work for you. To change title to your real estate, you will need to executed a deed. The newly executed deed can include language to place the property into both partners’ names. Updating the title to reflect your new marital status will ensure that both spouses have rights to the property, and one will inherit the property should the unthinkable happen to the other spouse.
If a new home purchase is in the plans, take a look at Florida homestead exemptions — how they work, what the benefits are, how to execute, and more. A homestead exemption can provide asset protection as well as a property tax reduction.
Aside from the topics listed above, you may want to consider updating your account beneficiaries for your 401(k), IRA, bank accounts, health savings account and any additional investment accounts you might have.
Congratulations on your marriage and the beginning of what’s sure to be a wonderful life together! By making these estate planning updates you can feel good having piece of mind knowing you are a little more prepared for the unexpected; and your family will be protected should something happen to you.
Ask a Pinellas County Estate Planning Attorney for Assistance
If you are recently married or engaged to be married soon, now is the perfect time to discuss your estate planning needs. Having an open discussion with your partner about your individual assets and your final wishes is critical. If you need assistance starting this discussion, the attorneys at Kira Doyle Law are always happy to offer guidance. To get started call our St. Petersburg office at 727-537-6818 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys today!