After you get married, go on the honeymoon and things start to settle down a bit back home, you need to consider what is next. One of the first moves that you need to make as a newlywed couple is to protect yourselves, your finances and your assets. In particular, you need to perform certain estate planning tasks, including:
1. Head to Human Resources at Work
It is crucial that both newlyweds visit the HR department of their place of employment as soon as possible after getting married. This is because most employers will manage retirement and life insurance accounts. Not only does the wife's name need to be updated, but beneficiary names need to be updated to include the spouse.
2. Review Life Insurance Policies
For those who have life insurance, it is important to review the policy any time a life event occurs, such as marriage. Although life insurance at work was touched on above, many individuals carry their own private life insurance. Many couples will want to increase the amount of their life insurance so that a certain lifestyle can be carried out or that the mortgage is paid after one spouse passes. In addition, if you want to have children in the foreseeable future, it may be a good idea to go ahead and purchase additional life insurance now while you are healthy and at a young age. This allows the purchase of higher premiums at more favorable rates.
3. Execute Your Wills
Even if you don't have much as an individual or a couple in terms of assets, it is important to consider executing a simple and basic will that gives your spouse everything when you die. Otherwise, depending on the state in which you live, your spouse may not receive all of your property and assets. If there was a prenuptial agreement, the terms of such agreement should be outlined in the will. Estate plans should always reflect any prior verbal or written agreements.
4. Obtain Health Advance Directives and Powers of Attorneys
Many newlyweds assume that their spouse has the right to make medical, financial and other legal decisions on their behalf in the event that they cannot. However, without the proper documentation in place providing that spouse the ability to make these decisions, the responsibility may be left up to someone else. It all depends on the law in the state where you reside.
By taking the time to issue a health advance directive and power of attorney, you can ensure that your spouse can make decisions for you when you find yourself incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so. In addition, you both should name an alternate individual in the event that you both are involved in an accident at the same time.
5. Discuss Documents of Home Ownership
It isn't uncommon for one person in a marriage to already have a home prior to tying the knot. After the wedding takes place, it may be beneficial to change home ownership documents to reflect the names of you and your spouse instead of just you. This can often help offer protection from creditors and even avoid probate in the future.
If you're recently married or planning to get hitched in the near future, sit down with an estate planning attorney, like those at LeBaron & Jensen, P.C., to discuss your financial and estate plan.