Newly married couples are embarking on a whole new life together. This new life comes with a number of changes. It is important to consider your estate planning as you begin your life together. Creating an estate plan that works for both you and your new spouse can ensure that you are on the same page when it comes to medical, financial, and end of life decisions.
Update Accounts and Beneficiaries
Many married couples consolidate their accounts. Checking and savings accounts are usually held jointly. Consider opening a joint bank account or credit cards to make paying for future expenses more convenient. Insurance plans, such as health, car, home, or life insurance often allow for family plans that include coverage for the whole household. Changing over to these plans can almost always provide the same amount of coverage for a better rate.
Existing accounts may also require updated beneficiaries. Retirement accounts or life insurance plans with designated beneficiaries are customarily left to the spouse. However, if an account is originally set up with your parents or sibling as the beneficiary and this isn’t changed, you spouse may receive nothing in the event of your death.
Update Estate Planning Documents
If you and your spouse already have estate planning documents in place, it is important to review and update these documents whenever there is a life event. If there has been a name change, such as taking your spouse’s last name, you will definitely have to update all estate planning documents to reflect this change. Updating your current estate planning documents to include your new spouse means naming them:
- As an heir in your will,
- To act as agent on your behalf when it comes to making medical and end of life decisions through an Advance Healthcare Directive,
- As power of attorney for all financial matters.
Update Identification and Documentation
Marriage oftentimes comes with a name change. It is important to update any and all identification and official documentation to reflect this change. Updating this information now can save time and headaches in the future. Here are a few things you may need to update:
- Driver’s License or State ID Card
- Social Security Card
- Bank Accounts or Credit Cards
- Employer or Payroll Identifications
- Medical and Insurance Policies
- Voter Registration
Other items such as warranty registrations may also need to be updated depending on your individual situation. Updating documents can be stressful and time consuming. Tackle the chore a few items at a time.