Getting married is an exciting new adventure that most people enter into with high hopes. And it should be that way. Unfortunately it’s not all blissful ease and at some point after the wedding you’ll have to sit down with your new spouse and decide the unpleasant but necessary things like bill paying and closet space. One thing that is likely to be overlooked is estate planning and this is a mistake. If you get married, your stuff becomes your spouses and as such it’s crucial to update all of your estate planning documents. Here are five of the most common estate planning missteps people take after getting married.
- Not doing anything – Some people avoid wills entirely because they’re morbid and depressing but dying without one is a huge liability and extremely stressful for those you left behind. This is especially complicated with multiple marriages and children from previous spouses. You should definitely NOT do nothing. Your life affects others and it’s important to acknowledge that.
- Forgetting to update your will – The laws concerning wills and trusts are complex. If something happens to you and there is no will, it’s up to the courts to decide things like asset distribution. Make sure that you update your will to include your new spouse, otherwise they could be left with nothing.
- Failing to protect your children from a previous marriage – If you have children from a previous marriage, it’s important to make sure that they’re protected financially in the event of your death. If you pass away without specifying financial support for your children, everything goes to the spouse. Make sure that there are provisions in place to keep them safeguarded and cared for.
- Forgetting to update power of attorney – This is especially important for medical power of attorney. Let’s say that this is your second marriage but you forgot to update your medical power of attorney and replace your ex-spouse. If you’re incapacitated in an accident and on life support your ex-spouse has the legal right to determine your course of treatment which may not be in your, or your new spouse’s, best interest.
- Not hiring an attorney – Estate planning is a complicated process and the more stuff you’re combining with your new spouse the more complicated it is. Protect your stuff and protect your rights by hiring a legal professional that specializes in estate planning.
The main purpose of estate planning is the protection of those you leave behind after your death. You want to ensure that those you love are taken care of, as well as shielded from any financial responsibilities you may have left behind. Your life has just been updated with a new spouse. Your estate planning documents need to be too.
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