Estate Planning for Newlyweds & Blended Families
Wedding bells are ringing. You booked the caterer, the date is set and you have your dress. But have you given thought to your estate plan now that you are married? Will you be joining two families and have special considerations regarding your children from a previous marriage? Do you think it is too early to start thinking about end-of-life planning? It is never too early to start planning for your retirement, your future, and your estate. After the post-wedding jitters have settled, you should strongly consider reviewing your joint finances, what your long-term goals as a couple will be, and your thoughts regarding your estate and living will.
Estate Planning for Married Couples
Whether or not to merge finances, create a joint bank account, or joint health insurance account is a personal choice. Some couples choose to keep financial accounts separate long after they have tied the knot. After your wedding, you will want to contact the administrator of life insurance, car insurance, health insurance, IRA, 401K, health savings and investment accounts. If you choose, you can update the account so that your spouse is made the new beneficiary. You also should consider whom to elect as a secondary beneficiary if both you and your spouse passed away. Also think about a durable power of attorney, which allows your new spouse to make decisions on your behalf if you were to become extremely ill or incapacitated. Finally, take stock of your jointly owned personal and real property, as well as gifts and heirlooms brought to the marriage. If certain items are not deemed marital property, make note of this in your estate plan regarding asset division.
Estate Planning for Blended Families
If this Is your second or third marriage and you have children from a previous relationship, you may want to clarify in your estate plan or living will that you wish some items to be bequeathed to your children instead of your new spouse. Regarding life insurance, bank accounts and other financial accounts, usually after your passing if your spouse is still living, they become the de facto controller of the accounts and beneficiary of life insurance or social security benefits. If this is not your intention or you wish to allocate certain funds or assets to your children, you can do so using a will, a revocable trust, or another estate vehicle. A revocable trust can be altered while the testator is still living. An irrevocable trust can no longer be altered once formed. The trust allows the testator to expressly indicate how assets are to be distributed and when. Unlike a will, which usually only lists a few clauses regarding asset distribution, a trust provides explicit instructions about all assets including financial accounts and intellectual property, if desired. You can also set up a trust with conditions that must be met before distribution.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Whether you are newly married or approaching a silver anniversary, it is never too early or too late to start thinking about your asset allocation and estate plan. If you have children from a previous marriage, stepchildren, a joint business or a special needs beneficiary, our attorneys can provide tailored advice for your unique situation and strategize for the estate plan that best fits your needs. The Tampa estate planning lawyers at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. serve residents throughout Hillsborough County. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.