Jun 4, 2017

Posted in Blog - "Altman Speaks"

Newlyweds Should Discuss Estate Planning

After Saying, “I Do”, Newlyweds Should Discuss Estate Planning

Many newlyweds incorrectly assume that, because they are now married, everything they own will automatically be given to their spouse when they pass. This is not true. Community property states have their own rules concerning what spouses own and can claim. In all other states, there is no rule that property acquired during marriage is owned by both spouses. In some states, the amount the surviving spouse is entitled to claim depends upon how long the couple was married. Estate planning is the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death.

Newlyweds (and all married couples) need a last will and testament

Young newlyweds without many assets often dismiss the need for a last will and testament. Don’t make this mistake. Without a last will and testament, the state in which you reside will follow state law concerning the distribution of your property when you die. Not all state laws leave 100% of property to the surviving spouse. By executing a last will and testament, newlyweds can leave all their assets to their spouse and ensure that their wishes are carried out.

Prenuptial agreements should be reflected in estate plans

Newlyweds who have a prenuptial agreement should develop a last will and testament that reflects the terms of the prenuptial agreement. Simply having a prenuptial agreement in place is not enough. Estate plans must mirror what the prenuptial agreement provides in the event of the death of a spouse.

Durable powers of attorney

Saying “I do” does not give a spouse the absolute right to make decisions for the other spouse in the event of incapacity. To designate that the spouse is the individual who can make legal, financial, and medical decisions on behalf of the other spouse, couples must execute a durable power of attorney and a medical advance directive. Doing so will provide couples with the ability to make decisions for one another in the event of an accident or unexpected incapacity.

When “my” home becomes “our” home

Oftentimes, one spouse owns a home prior to marriage. In these cases, newlyweds should consider changing the home ownership from being owned by one spouse to being owned by both spouses. This may be advantageous, providing added creditor protection and allowing couples to avoid probate.

We are your Maryland estate planning specialists

When you and your partner are starting a new life together as a married couple, it is important to develop an estate plan to provide for the future and achieve your long-term financial goals. For more than 40 years, Altman & Associates has specialized in estate planning. We discuss your needs, goals, and concerns, and work closely with you to develop an estate plan that satisfies all of your wishes. We are recognized as the premier estate planning firm in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia areas and have offices in both Columbia and Rockville. Contact a member of our team today at 301-468-3220 or visit us online to schedule a consultation.

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