Estate Planning for Married Couples

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Living Will (Advance Health Care Directive): It’s important that each spouse understand the other