The Importance of Estate Planning for Married Couples

Estate Planning, Family

If you are recently married, you may not consider your estate planning needs. (It’s not the most romantic of discussions for newlyweds!) However, whether you have been married for a few months or several decades, have children together or a blended family, the importance of estate planning for married couples cannot be overstated. Once you are married, you have to consider not only how your estate will be distributed following your death, but also how certain matters such as health care directives or financial decisions will be made if you remain unable to do so due to an illness or accident. Visiting with an experienced estate planning attorney at Ibekwe Law, PLLC at 512-505-2753 can help you better determine how an estate plan can be specifically tailored for your family’s specific needs.

Estate Planning Conversations Can Prove Emotionally Challenging

Before getting into the options of estate planning for married couples, it is important to address the fact that even the most well-adjusted couple can feel that estate planning discussions are emotionally challenging. Topics involved in an estate plan, such as health directives and end-of-life wishes, force couples to discuss complex financial and psychological issues, and can force them to deal with their own mortality. Additionally, for couples that have blended families, these matters can be even more difficult to navigate. However, ignoring the subject will only result in confusion, frustration, and overwhelm at the end of one spouse’s life. Therefore, taking the time to have an open conversation about estate planning can ensure that you address these complicated and emotionally-charged issues head-on in your marriage and ensure that all of your wishes will be handled according to your direction after your death.

Types of Estate Planning Tools for Married Couples

Whether you have no children, children together, a blended family, have a great deal of financial wealth, or are just starting out, there are estate planning tools that can help ensure your wishes are carried out either during your life or following your death. Some of these estate planning documents can include the following:

  • Last Will and Testament (distributes assets after death and names guardians for any minor children)
  • Trust (several different types of trusts exist that can be either revocable or non-revocable and address the specific needs of a married couple and family)
  • Medical power of attorney (appointment of a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you remain unable to do so for yourself due to illness or injury)
  • A durable power of attorney (appointment of a person to make financial and/or legal decisions on your behalf during your lifetime if you remain unable to do so for any reason)
  • A living will (also known as an advanced directive that articulates all end-of-life medical care wishes for family or loved ones to follow in the event of a serious injury or illness)

There are other types of estate planning legal documents that are available to married couples as well, and each family will have its own unique set of facts and circumstances that need to be addressed. Talking with an experienced estate planning attorney at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you create a strategy to determine a plan of action that ensures your wishes will be carried out for your family.

What to Say to Your Spouse Regarding Estate Planning

Now that you know the conversation may be a challenging one, and you know the possible types of estate planning areas you may want to consider, take the time to ask the questions that will help propel the conversation in a positive direction. Some of the tasks and questions to ask may include the following:

  • Request that you have an estate planning conversation in the future and set a date, to avoid ambushing your loved one.
  • Request that all pertinent financial documents are gathered before the estate planning discussion. Having a complete inventory of all bank accounts, stock portfolios, real estate, and other assets (stamp collections, valuable artwork, etc.) may help make better determinations regarding how to distribute these assets after your death. Additionally, having an inventory of all liabilities such as loans and debts can also help you navigate your financial territory with more information.
  • Discuss who you would want to make your financial decisions if you were unable to do so during your life as a result of illness or injury.
  • Discuss who you would want to make your health-related decisions if you were unable to do so during your life as a result of illness or injury.
  • Discuss who to transfer all of your assets to following your death. This conversation can become challenging if you have a blended family. Make sure to approach the conversation in the spirit of cooperation.
  • If you have minor children, discuss who you would want to be their legal guardian.
  • If you have children (either minors or adults) with special needs, discuss how you would want to ensure their financial, physical, and emotional health when you pass away.

These are only some of the larger topics that need to be discussed between spouses. Estate planning for married couples involves a great deal of decision making with respect to not only themselves but their children and extended families. However, having these discussions can ensure that no family member is surprised after their spouse passes away, and creating a legally binding estate plan can help ensure that their wishes are always carried out.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today

The sooner you make the decision to start the conversation with your spouse, the sooner you will have a resolution regarding all of the complexities that can accompany estate planning for married couples. You have many options as a married couple regarding your estate planning, and learning those options can only facilitate the discussion you will have with your spouse. Learn more by contacting an experienced estate planning attorney today at Ibekwe Law, PLLC at 512-505-2753. We can help ensure that you have peace of mind and that all of your wishes are carried out for your family after your death.