Newlyweds present unique challenges in the area of estate planning. As they start their new lives together they will face many changes, including the addition of new families. As most estate planning attorneys know, it is a very wise decision for newlyweds and young families to put their estate planning strategies in place as soon as possible. The sooner you start, the better chance you and your spouse will be on the same page with regard to family issues such as guardianship of your minor children, medical and end-of-life decisions and finances.
First, you need to update your beneficiary designations
Insurance policies and any other accounts or policies that requiring naming a beneficiary need to be updated to include your spouse. Likewise, if you have a new baby, you want to make sure they have appropriate insurance coverage and are named as your beneficiaries, when appropriate. Also, insurance policies that provide family coverage need to be updated which could also give you a better rate. Don’t forget about retirement account, as well. When they were initially opened, you likely named a parent or sibling as your beneficiary. If you fail to update that designation, your spouse will not inherit those funds if you pass away.
The benefits of opening joint bank accounts
It is not uncommon for newlyweds to want to combine their bank accounts and add each other to their credit card accounts. In fact, doing so makes it much simpler for new couples to pay their joint expenses. This can be a good thing for another reason. If you share ownership of these accounts, your spouse will automatically be able to access those accounts if your spouse passes away.
Existing estate planning documents need to be updated
Updating your estate planning documents is also important. If you already have a will or trust, then you should review those estate planning documents every time there is a life event, such as marriage or the birth of a child. You should also update your documents to make sure your spouse is named as an heir in your will or beneficiary of your trust, as you see fit. You will need to add your spouse as your agent with regard to your medical and end of life decisions and power of attorney for financial matters. Our Los Angeles and Los Alamitos estate planning attorneys can help you modify these estate planning documents.
Name changes require updating identification and other official documents
Although times and the nature of relationships have changed, there are still many couples who agree that the wife will take the husband’s last name or hyphenate her name. In those situations, the wife needs to update all official documents, including identification such as her driver’s license, passport, social security card, and voter registration. The same is true for her name on her bank accounts, credit cards, and insurance policies.
Estate planning strategies for young families
When couples start having children, they have a responsibility to plan for the future of their new family. That way, you can be sure that your family will be able to care for themselves should something happen to you. It would be a mistake to think you can put off estate planning because everything is new. The truth is, estate planning can never be accomplished too soon. Let our estate planning attorneys help you get started with this important task.
New families must consider the issue of guardianship
One of the first things young families should consider is appointing a guardian for their children in the event both parents pass away. Certainly, this is a topic that will be hard to think about, but it is crucial that you make sure your children will be taken care of by the right person if something ever happens to you. Your minor children should be entrusted to someone you believe will be caring and reliable and willing to raise them until they reach the age of majority.
You need to designate an executor of your estate
Another recommendation from our estate planning attorneys is to carefully consider your designation of an executor for your estate. By doing so, you can be sure that your children will receive the inheritance you wanted them to have. Making this decision will have a substantial effect on the success of your estate plan because you need someone trustworthy to carry out that plan. Our estate planning attorneys can help you make this decision.
Download our FREE estate planning worksheet today! If you have questions regarding estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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