Kissing Newlyweds on the Beach

Taking the time to sit down with your spouse and update your estate plans will ensure that, should the worst happen, your new family is prepared to handle the unexpected.

A recent Motley Fool article, titled Estate Planning for Newlyweds,” says newly married couples should start their estate planning out small by changing their account beneficiaries. This should be automatic now that you have a spouse. Talk it through, weigh the options and your preferences, and then update all of your insurance policies, any existing will or trusts, bank and investment accounts, and your 401(k) and other retirement accounts.

The two of you should discuss how you want your assets to be divided in the event that one or both of you passes unexpectedly. When you are comfortable with your decisions, talk to your estate planning attorney and create a will that documents your intentions.

While you are in your estate planning attorney’s office, ask him or her to set up a durable power of attorney, so that your spouse will have the ability to handle your individual financial affairs if you are incapacitated. The original article also suggest that you check with your banks and financial institutions to see if they require their own forms—some are hesitant or will not recognize your spouses’ authority unless it is their “approved” paperwork.

You should also have an advance medical directive, so that your new wife or husband understands what you would want to occur in specific medical situations. Also, be sure you nominate each other as health care proxies. These two documents will set out your medical care preferences and allow each of you the authority of power of attorney to access medical records and make health care decisions.

The Motley Fool article discusses several other estate planning matters newlyweds should discuss. Once the two of you are one—as far as your estate planning ideas—sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and draft all of the necessary documents. Planning for the worst, the article cautions, will give your family security, solidity, and protection.

Reference: Motley Fool (July 13, 2014) Estate Planning for Newlyweds

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.