Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Getting Married? Here's What To Do...

If you are newly engaged or married, updating your estate plan is an important part of establishing your new life together with your spouse. Below are a few estate planning considerations for newlyweds:

  1. Beneficiaries: After getting married, you may wish to update your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, and life insurance polices to include your new spouse.

  2. Property Titles: If you own real property or a vehicle prior to your marriage, you may choose to update your title to add your spouse as a joint titleholder.

  3. Wills: You will likely wish to account for your new spouse as a beneficiary in your will. Additionally, if you plan to have children, you can utilize your will to choose a guardian and make a plan for passing assets to your children.

  4. Powers of Attorney: Spouses typically designate each other as primary agents for purposes of making financial and medical decisions in the event of incapacitation.

Show your new spouse some love by planning for the future.

Estate Planning Tips For Parents Of Young Children

For new parents, developing an estate plan can seem like a daunting task.  Where do you even begin to make sure that your little ones are taken care of if the unthinkable happens?  The four special considerations below provide a good starting point for parents of young children who are ready to get their estate plan in order:

1. Appoint a guardian in your will to take over parenting responsibilities in the event that you and your children's other parent pass away.  Although this is typically the hardest decision for parents to make, a court will choose an individual to take over if you fail to name a guardian on your own.

2. Select a trusted individual or financial institution (a trustee) to handle your assets on behalf of your children if you pass away while they are still young.  This could be the guardian you have appointed, or you may choose another individual to act as trustee if you prefer to keep powers separate.

3. Choose an age or life event or achievement at which time you would like your children to receive your assets outright without the involvement of a trustee.  Many parents prefer to withhold outright distribution of assets until children exceed college age, but distribution could also be contingent upon milestones such as graduation, marriage, or purchase of a home.

4. Check your listed beneficiaries on life insurance, retirement, and other types of accounts to make sure your primary and alternate beneficiaries are up to date.  Any such beneficiary designations will occur automatically upon your death and will trump gifts made in your will.

If you take the time to think through these four considerations, you are well on your way to making sure your children are taken care of by your estate plan.

4 New Year's Resolutions For Married Couples

Whether you are planning a wedding this year, or you have been married for 50 years, this helpful article from A Practical Wedding outlines four major planning discussions you should have with your spouse.  Writing your wills, purchasing life insurance, preparing living wills, and documenting various aspects of life can go a long way toward making an unexpected situation much simpler for your spouse or other loved ones to manage.

Thank you for a wonderful 2016, and best wishes for a safe and happy 2017!