Congratulations on your new marriage! The wedding day you thought would never arrive has come and gone and that honeymoon tan is wearing off; it’s time to get down to business (and no, I’m not talking about getting out those “thank you” cards). Now is the perfect time to put a few estate planning items in place to protect your new family.
1. Update the Beneficiary
If you already have a Will, you need to update it to account for your new spouse. The last thing you want is to have an old Will that accidentally leaves everything you own to an ex or family member you don’t talk to anymore; meanwhile, your new spouse is left with nothing. (Note: there are some default laws that can help in this situation, but it’s a difficult and drama-filled process that’s best to avoid).
If you don’t have a Will, it’s time to get one. Keep reading to learn why there has never been a more important time for you to have a Will.
2. What About the Kids?
If you already have children, or they are in your future, you need to name someone in your Will to be their guardian if something happens to both you and your better-half. Keep in mind that the person who looks after your children doesn’t necessarily have to be the same person who manages the money you leave for them.
Example: Your sister is terrific with children and the person you want to continue raising them if you’re no longer around. However, she is terrible at managing money. On the other hand, you have a cousin who is an accountant, but has never been around children. In this situation, it would be ideal to have your children live with your sister and have your cousin manage the money you leave (we can help you put it into a trust through your Will) and make distributions to your sister to assist in raising your children.
3. Making It Happen
The Executor is the person who makes your Will come to life. They, quite literally, “execute” your wishes. The most important quality in an executor is trust. You need to find a person who both you and your new spouse believe will see to your affairs and ensure the process is carried out as you’ve specified in your Will. The executor does not necessarily need to be an individual receiving any money from your estate. Oftentimes, the best executor is someone who has no stake in your property, but is simply trustworthy enough to see to your wishes. That said, there is certainly nothing wrong with having an executor who is a beneficiary of your estate.
The Mirror Will
The vast majority of spouses have what’s called a “Mirror” Will. This means that their Wills mirror each other and are nearly identical.
Example: Jack and Jill are married. Jack’s Will says, “if I die, my wife, Jill, gets all my stuff. If Jill dies before me, then our kids get everything.” Jill’s Will says, “if I die, my husband, Jack, gets all my stuff. If Jack dies before me, then our kids get everything.”
Of special note, with Mirror Wills, we only charge the cost of creating one Will…effectively giving most couples two Wills for the price of one.
Once you have a Will in place, you never need to worry about it again–unless you have a major life-change and need to update it. Even if you anticipate an upcoming change, don’t wait becuase you’re worried about creating a Will too soon. All modifications of Parks, Bryant & Snyder Wills are subject to a 25% lifetime discount. You can always talk yourself into a reason to put off creating a Will, but we have seen too many sad cases where creating a Will never happened and family members were left guessing what to do with a loved one’s property.
It’s easy to put this off; contemplating death is never a fun way to kill an evening with your new spouse. Think of it this way though, you now have a new family to look out for. Having a solid Will in place is just another way of saying “I love you” to them. It’s the way you ensure that they are properly cared for if you’re no longer around. It’s a sign that you’re an adult who is ready to make important decisions on behalf of your new family.
As an added incentive to our newlywed clients, we offer a 25% discount on all estate planning services to couples married for one year or less, consider it a belated wedding gift from us…unfortunately, we can’t help you finish those “thank you” cards. Call us at (931) 398-5200 for more information and to get started creating your new Will.