Planning a wedding is not only an exciting experience, it’s also a good time to consider how your estate planning needs will change. By working with the right estate planning attorney, you can chart a better course for your financial future before you say “I do.” Although these may be complicated issues to hash over with your future life partner, being prepared is the responsible thing to do. Let’s take a look at 5 critical issues that should be addressed before you tie the knot.
1. Reviewing Life Insurance Policies
Let’s face it: confronting your own mortality is never easy and even less so as you are planning your wedding. However, life is uncertain at best and accidents can happen at any time. If you lost your spouse soon after the marriage, would you be able to cover the rent or a mortgage on a new home? Life insurance is designed to provide financial support after the loss of a spouse. If you already have life insurance, make sure the beneficiary designations have been updated (see below).
2. Creating or Updating a Will
Given the fact that roughly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. don’t have a will, it should come as no surprise that many newlyweds don’t have an estate plan. If you and your partner do not have a will, consulting an estate planning attorney before your marriage can help you address financial concerns as well as issues such as health care directives and retirement planning. If you already have a will, however, you should discuss updating it with your attorney.
3. Updating Beneficiary Designations
As mentioned above it is crucial to update the beneficiary designations on any life insurance policies, as well as any other assets (e.g. retirement accounts) that also have beneficiary designations. Because these assets pass directly to the named beneficiary outside of probate, your beneficiary designations should be aligned with your estate plan.
4. Protecting Inheritance for Children
If you have children from a prior marriage or relationship, it is crucial to protect their inheritance rights. While a prenuptial agreement can help to clarify each partner’s property rights, a well-conceived estate plan allows you to name a guardian to care for your children after your death as well as a trustee to protect any inheritance you intended for them.
5. Planning for Incapacity
To protect your assets and your wellbeing, your and your partner should discuss who will make medical and financial decisions in the event either of you is unable to do so because of an accident or illness. Your estate planning attorney can help you put in place the needed durable powers of attorney and advance medical directives to address these issues.
No one likes to think about dying or becoming incapacitated, especially when planning a marriage. Nonetheless, estate planning and wedding planning should go hand in hand so that you are your partner are protected.