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Estate Planning Tips for Newlyweds

As you and your spouse embark on married life, you have a whole future to plan for. However, most newlyweds are not focused on the advisability of estate planning. Regardless of your state of financial health, estate planning early in your marriage can help you deal with future changes and protect your assets.

Marriage involves updating many of your important records to reflect your new status. You may be changing your last name, adding a spouse’s name to health insurance, opening a joint checking account, applying for joint credit or purchasing property together. Drafting a will and other estate planning documents should also be considered.

Here are ways to establish a comprehensive estate plan as a married couple:

  • Make separate wills — While you may have heard about spouses creating joint and mutual wills that are interdependent, a better plan is to craft two separate wills, even if they’re almost identical. This removes many ambiguities, resulting in a simpler probate process. If you have existing wills, update them to reflect your new marital status.
  • Update beneficiary designations — Make sure that any account that can have a beneficiary, such as a life insurance or retirement account, has a named beneficiary and that the designation is up to date.
  • Establish a living trust — A common misconception about trusts is that they’re only for the wealthy. Even a modest estate can include a trust. Among other benefits, a trust can provide for your care in case you become incapacitated. It can also make it easier for your intended beneficiaries to receive property if you should die unexpectedly.
  • Plan for real estate ownership — If you don’t yet own a home, decide how it will be held when you do. If you’ll be buying property jointly, decide how it will transfer upon the death of either of you. For example, if you or your spouse have children from a previous relationship, decide whether they will have a financial stake in the property.
  • Provide for children — Whether you have children prior to marriage or plan to have children, include plans for supporting them if one or both their parents die when the children are minors.
  • Earmark premarital assets — If either spouse has property from before marriage that they plan to keep in their name, enter an agreement that prescribes who inherits that property. If the asset is the marital home, you may specify how long the non-owner spouse may remain in the home after the other spouse’s death.

If you or your spouse had a previous marriage, with or without children, there may be obligations both now and in the future that will affect a will or trust. Hiring an attorney who concentrates in estate planning can help you design a plan that ensures you have a say in what happens to your property.

Jeffrey P. Hall, PLLC assists clients throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area with developing estate plans that protect their assets and provide for themselves and their loved ones as intended. To schedule a consultation, {PHONE} or contact us online.