No matter how large or small your estate is, you’ll want to spend some time on estate planning after you get married. After you are married, you may want to update your Will, change insurance beneficiaries, make healthcare decisions, and more. Now that you are a team, it’s important that you and your spouse make some plans to take care of one another, no matter what.
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What is estate planning?
Estate planning, for the most part, involves outlining how you may want your assets distributed should you pass away. After you get married, you may choose to write a new Will or change your existing Will to make accommodations for your new marital status. You may also want to give your spouse Power of Attorney to manage your finances or you may choose to assign a person to make healthcare choices for you in the event that you become incapacitated. If you don’t make these legal documents, your state laws will usually dictate what happens to your assets and who can make decisions for you.
Last Will and Testament
After you get married, you’ll want to write or update your Will, no matter the size of your estate. A Will is used to define how you want your assets distributed after you die. If you have children together, a Will can also be used to appoint a guardian for your minor children. If you have children from a previous relationship, you can name them as beneficiaries for specific assets. The consequences of not having a Will is that how your estate will be distributed will be decided by the courts during probate, which can be time-consuming and potentially expensive for your survivors.
Living Will or Advance Directive
Living Wills are important if you want to control healthcare decisions made on your behalf. If you do not have a Living Will, usually your spouse or a close family member will be tasked with making healthcare choices for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself or if you are near-death.
Also called an Advance Directive, this legal document outlines the care you wish to receive at the end-of-your-life. gives your agent the ability to make crucial healthcare choices for you, such as:
- Approving or refusing treatments, services or procedures
- Discharging or hiring care providers
- Approving or disapproving diagnostics tests, surgical procedures or medications
- Disconnecting life-sustaining efforts such as feed tubes, hydration and ventilators
- Approving or disapproving experimental procedures, organ donation and autopsies
If you would prefer to assign another person to make healthcare choices for you, you can appoint a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney document is usually used to appoint a person to make financial decisions for you. This person can manage your finances if you become ill or if you simply don’t want to. This person can pay your debts, file your taxes, manage your social security, make investment decisions for you, deal with your creditors, and more. If you own your own company, your business partners may require that you assign a person other than your spouse to manage your business finances.