Planning for “Til Death Do Us Part”

For most of us, getting married marks an exciting period of transition. From a legal and financial perspective, marriage also poses many changes that must be planned for.

Estate planning is one topic that few newlyweds think to consider, but it’s very important. As a single person, you may not have given much through to what might happen at the end of your life. As part of a marriage, however, you’ll need to make arrangements to ensure that your spouse is cared for in the event of your death.

Three Things You Need to Do When Planning Your Estate

Many newlyweds are surprised to learn that their spouses don’t automatically gain power of attorney and similar rights after marriage. This can lead to confusion and stress during already difficult times.

Estate planning for newlyweds comes down primarily to creating three documents: a health care proxy, durable power of attorney and a last will and testament.

– Health Care Proxy: This is an important document that makes your wishes clear in the event that you are medically incapacitated, near death or in a persistent vegetative state. Your health care proxy includes instructions for end-of-life care, such as your preferences on life support, so that your wishes will be honored when you are incapable of communicating them yourself.

– Durable Power of Attorney: Establishing someone as your power of attorney allows that person to make financial decisions for you when you are incapacitated. This power can be given to anyone, but it’s most often given to a spouse. With this power, your spouse can do things like sell shared assets, pay bills and manage investments when you are unable to do so yourself.

– Last Will and Testament: This is the document most people think of when considering estate planning. Your will spells out the details of inheritance for your assets and property after death. It also details who will be in charge of administering the estate, who the guardian of your children will be and more. When a last will and testament is absent, some of these assets will default to your spouse based on statutory formulas, however it is best to establish your distribution ahead of time. Having the proper documentation will make the transition smoother during a challenging time.

In addition to the above, you’ll need to update important financial accounts and properties to list your spouse as a beneficiary. These include bank accounts, life insurance policies, investments and any other property or assets you own.

Estate planning can be complex, and it’s a good idea to work with an attorney who is experienced in property and estate planning. The law offices of McLane & McLane can provide you with the information and assistance you need to rest easy knowing that you and your spouse’s future is protected. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.

McLane & McLane law business cards in the foreground with a legal consultation between two lawyers and a couple in the old last will and testament document.