Many newly married couples put off estate planning for several reasons. Those reasons may include being too young, being healthy, unable to afford it or because they have no children yet. For some, it may even be depressing to think about the possibility of dying at such a young age. However, even healthy young adults can be taken suddenly by illness or accident and leave their spouse behind. Estate planning for young married couples at this stage of their lives for the possibilities that may lie ahead is just the responsible, thoughtful and the loving thing to do.
Some couples simply don’t know the purpose or point of estate planning, let alone see a need for it in their young age. Knowledge of what estate planning can do for you and your spouse is vital in the long run. A basic estate plan typically includes a Will, Financial Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Health Care Directive. In addition, one of the primary goals of any estate plan is to minimize any taxes due at the time of death. Many people wonder what will happen if they die without creating a will. To answer that question, the court will appoint an administrator to make decisions in regard to the division of your assets. After final matters are paid for such as debt, taxes and funeral expenses, the administrator will divide your assets according to state law which doesn’t always take into account the deceased’s wishes or family dynamics. This impersonal and stark route for your estate is precisely what most individuals, couples, and families aim to avoid when they begin their estate planning.
There are several things that will need to be considered when putting your estate together:
- You will need to name an executor or trustee for your estate. That person will be responsible for handling your final financial affairs such as, locating and valuing assets, locating and paying bills, distributing assets, hiring an attorney and other advisors. They should be someone who is trustworthy, willing, able, and knows you well and will carry out your wishes.
2. You will need to provide instructions for the distribution of your assets. Most married couples want their assets to go to the surviving spouse if one of them dies. Some assets will transfer automatically to the surviving spouse by beneficiary designations depending on how the asset or account is titled.
- Part of the estate planning process is to review the amount of life insurance on both spouses. Income earned by one or both spouses would need to be replaced; also, one or more people would probably be needed to take over the responsibilities of a stay-at-home spouse.
4. There is the possibility that one or both individuals could become disabled due to injury, illness or other tragedy. This should be planned for and both spouses need medical powers of attorney that give someone else legal authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You would probably name your spouse to do this, but one or two others should be named in case your spouse is also unable to act. HIPPA authorizations will give your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation with others (parents, siblings and close friends). Disability income insurance should also be considered because life insurance does not pay at disability.
- Have an open discussion with your spouse about your future, about each other’s expectations and desires. This would include not only planning for the future but also what each other would want if they passed away. Do they want to be buried or cremated. Do they have specific advance directives about end of life decisions if they were in a coma. Failing to discuss these important issues and knowing what your new spouse would want is important. One of the most loving things to do for your new spouse is to make these tough decisions now so they do not have to later.
It is important to remember that estate planning is not a luxury for newlyweds, but a necessity. Estate planning does require you to think about family relationships which will result in some difficult decisions. However, an experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you through the process, provide valuable guidance and make sure that your plan will do what you want when needed. If finances are tight, as they usually are for young couples, it is still helpful to start with the most essential legal documents and term life insurance, then update and upgrade your plan as your financial situation improves. The most important thing with estate planning is to not put it off. Once your plan is in place, you will have peace of mind that your family will be protected if something should happen to you.
“Basic Estate Planning: Married Couple.” Helsell Fetterman.
“Estate Planning for Young Families.” EstatePlanning.com – Powered by WealthCounsel.
 “Basic Estate Planning: Married Couple.” Helsell Fetterman.
 “Estate Planning for Young Families.” EstatePlanning.com – Powered by WealthCounsel.