After you and your spouse say “I do”, you should schedule a low cost estate planning consultation with our Memphis estate planning attorney to develop a thorough estate plan that protects you and your growing family. A thorough estate plan for you and your spouse will likely incorporate the following:
Life Insurance: Upon getting married, each spouse should consider getting a life insurance policy on their life to benefit their spouse and children. This is necessary because you and your spouse will be growing and building together, and it is important to ensure that your loved ones will not suffer financially due to the loss of your income or the services you provide to your family. Having a life insurance policy in place can help ensure that your family will not be uprooted from the marital home due to your spouse’s inability to pay the mortgage and household bills. It can also help ensure that your children’s education and opportunities will not be derailed due to an inability to pay for tuition and extracurricular activities. If you already have a life insurance policy in place, you should consider immediately updating the beneficiary information. This will ensure that in the event of death, the surviving spouse receives the proceeds, versus parents or a former significant other who may have been a previous choice as beneficiary.
Titling jointly owned property: It’s important to correctly title jointly owned property. Married couples should consider titling their jointly owned property as tenants by entireties form of ownership. Titling marital property as tenants by the entireties can protect both parties from an individual spouse’s creditors seeking to attach the assets. For example, if one spouse injures a third party in a car accident, the injured party likely will not be able to take the marital home titled as tenants by entireties in a lawsuit.
Durable Power of Attorney: Married couples often incorrectly believe that they have the authority to make financial and legal decisions for each other. That is why it is necessary for the parties to have a durable power of attorney. If for any reason one spouse becomes incapacitated, a durable power of attorney will enable the other spouse to act as the legal agent and make financial decisions for the incapacitated spouse. By executing respective durable powers of attorneys, couples are able to avoid the expense and delay of having to go through a court guardianship proceeding should the unexpected occur.
Health Care Surrogate: In the event of a medical emergency where either spouse requires medical care but is unable to communicate, the designated health care surrogate will have the legal authority to make decisions on the other spouse’s behalf. Thus, couples should consider nominating each other as their health care proxies.
Living Will (Advance Health Care Directive): It’s important that each spouse understand the other’s wishes for certain medical situations and end-of-life decisions. A living will makes it clear when the individual wants to be kept on life support and receive artificial nourishment.
Last Will and Testament: Both parties should consider executing a Last Will and Testament to ensure that their final wishes are known and followed. Executing a Last Will and Testament can help ensure that the couple’s wishes regarding the disposition of their possessions and the custody and care of their minor or dependent children are known and followed.
Guardian for minor children: In the case of newlyweds with an existing child by a previous relationship, naming a guardian to care for the child is an important part of one’s estate plan, especially if the child’s other natural parent is no longer in the picture. Consider appointing a trustee to manage the child’s inheritance as the beneficiary of your revocable living trust until the child comes of legal age.
Revocable living trust: If a couple owns property or any investment accounts, they should consider setting up a trust. This will ensure that, in the event of unexpected death, assets may be transferred to the designated beneficiaries without going through the costly and time-consuming probate process.
Legacy Preservation: Estate planning entails more than just ensuring your spouse and children will be provided for financially. It also entails ensuring that your legacy continues to live on. With our legacy preservation tools, we can help ensure that your loved ones are provided priceless and comforting treasures to give you peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be well provided for financially, emotionally, and spiritually in your absence.
Once you and your spouse have consulted with our knowledgeable estate planning attorney and a thorough estate plan has been put into place, your estate planning doesn’t stop there. Because “life happens,” young couples can count on the fact that family dynamics and circumstances will continue to change over time. Children are born, assets grow, family relationships evolve, and so should your estate plan. While the suggestions above comprise the basic elements of estate planning, the list is not comprehensive. To ensure that you have a thorough estate plan in place that will protect you and your loved ones, you should contact the Law Office of Nakeshia Walls to schedule a low cost estate planning consultation. If you already have an estate plan in place, then you should consider having it reviewed at a minimum of once every five years.