A marriage is a bond between two people who have pledged to face life together. If you have recently committed to spending the rest of your life with your spouse, there is no better time than now to establish an estate plan.
While preparing for the future can be intimidating, estate planning can ease much of this uncertainty. Newlyweds share a joint effort toward growth and stability, and estate planning is an extension of this aim. Regardless of income, asset value, or homeowner status, newlyweds are in a highly favorable position when it comes to building an estate plan. Where do you begin?
It is helpful to think of estate planning as a way to protect your assets, possessions, and medical preferences. As such, spouses can share this responsibility even if they have few assets or do not own property. A common misconception is that estate planning only encompasses real estate. However, this is not the case. Your estate includes (but is not limited to): motor vehicles, prized personal possessions, heirlooms, and investment accounts.
Newlyweds can begin (or update) their estate plan by having an attorney prepare the following:
A well-crafted will can be a source of relief for surviving spouse, family, and loved ones. It includes the decedent’s wishes for the management and administration of their estate. Married couples often combine assets, which can change the nature of an individual’s pre-existing will.
If you have children or plan to have children, a will is a vital avenue for protecting your legacy. Inheritance and guardianship preferences can also be outlined in your will.
Those who have a will and are not yet married, but are planning to be married soon, are highly encouraged to revise their will after marriage. A change in marital status is just one of the significant life events that justify a will revision. Other significant life events include changes in residency, career, and homeowner status.
Power of Attorney
Having a Power of Attorney document in place allows you to appoint an agent to make legal, financial and personal decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot make these decisions for yourself. Choosing an agent may take some deliberation and discussion with your spouse and the person you decide to appoint. For this reason, it is crucial to start the estate planning process sooner rather than later.
Advance directives are also important regardless of the size of your estate. In this document, you may choose a healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you. The decision-making power of your healthcare agent can be limited or general. Specific medical preferences, such as “Do Not Resuscitate” orders, are also included in an advance directive.
As much as we try to plan ahead for emergencies, unforeseen situations are inevitable. In starting a new life together, you and your spouse should prioritize your approach to financial and medical well-being; these major decisions cannot be left to fate. Those with small estates have the ability to grow and maintain assets in the years to come and take comfort in knowing they are in control.
Having an estate planning professional not only offers clear communication and direction but allows for peace of mind. An estate plan is a crucial tool to help you achieve your goals, both individual and shared. If you would like assistance with estate planning in Maryland or have questions regarding your situation, we invite you to contact us at the Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC. 410-995-7719