You may not be ready for any more planning after planning a rehearsal dinner, wedding, and honeymoon. There is so much planning that goes into a wedding that it can be a bit overwhelming at times, while still being exciting and joyful. However, there is one important matter that many newlyweds overlook – estate planning.
Planning for your death or incapacitation is not typically a topic that comes up as you are preparing to get married, but it is something that newlyweds need to address. If possible, couples should discuss estate planning topics before the wedding to ensure they are taking all necessary steps to protect their future spouse. A California estate planning attorney can help couples address financial and estate matters before or after the wedding.
Five Estate Planning Steps Newlyweds Should Take As Soon As Possible
1. Discuss Matters Related to Property and Healthcare
If newlyweds have not discussed their preferences regarding end-of-life medical care, charitable giving, heirs, and other matters related to healthcare and property, it is time for those discussions. Before estate planning documents can be drafted and signed, couples need to decide how they want their property distributed after their deaths, whether they desire life-sustaining medical intervention if they are terminally ill, and who they want to make decisions for them if they are unable to do so themselves.
Depending on a couple’s situation, they may need to address children from a previous relationship, minor children or adults with special needs, charitable giving, special gifts of property, and other estate planning goals. Some couples may not be aware of all the topics which need to be addressed in an estate plan. An estate planning lawyer can facilitate discussions and ensure that important topics are not overlooked.
2. Beneficiary Designations
Some significant assets pass outside of a probate estate. Therefore, it is important to update the beneficiary designations for these assets to avoid any questions or problems. For some couples, these accounts provide instant access to the funds a surviving spouse may need to pay debts and living expenses while they are probating an estate. Because retirement accounts have special rules and restrictions, it is a good idea to discuss these accounts with an attorney to determine the best way to handle the accounts to avoid tax burdens and estate taxes.
3. Insurance Matters
When newlyweds are reviewing their beneficiary designations, it is also a good time to discuss life insurance. Life insurance is another way a couple can ensure that a surviving spouse has the funds needed to pay bills and living expenses after an unexpected death. Many newlyweds do not have sufficient life insurance coverage to sustain the household with only one income. For young couples, purchasing life insurance now while they are in a lower age bracket is most cost-effective.
It is also a good idea to review other types of insurance coverage, such as car insurance, disability insurance, and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. The couple may save money by combining insurance policies and bundling policies with the same insurance provider.
4. Titles to Real Estate and Personal Property
If either spouse owned real estate before the marriage, it may benefit the couple to re-title the real estate in both spouses’ names. The same applies to vehicles, boats, and other property that has a title. There are several ways to title property that can be helpful in estate planning, such as titling the property as community property with right of survivorship. An attorney can explain the various ways to title property and the best option to use to meet estate planning and financial goals.
5. Hire a California Estate-Planning Attorney to Prepare Documents
A couple may need a variety of estate planning documents to accomplish their goals and protect their assets. While you can locate generic wills, powers of attorney, and other documents online, using DIY estate planning documents is risky. Many of the documents found online do not contain all the language necessary to protect individuals and their property. If the document is not drafted and executed correctly, the document may be voided or reformed if challenged. A surviving spouse could incur substantial costs correcting a problem after losing their spouse. Instead of trusting something you find online, contact a California estate-planning attorney to prepare your estate documents. Contact us today for a consultation. Our estate attorneys understand the complexities involved in developing a comprehensive estate plan. In addition to ensuring documents are prepared correctly, you also benefit from the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney who understands probate laws and estate matters.