Did you know that the month of June is the most popular month to wed? We wish our “Congratulations” to all the new bride and grooms who may have tied the knot recently! While many couple may be registered for china sets, one present that is truly indispensable is estate planning. A newly minted “Mr. and Mrs.” may tend to forget that they need to update their retirement accounts that are managed by their employers. They need to update their beneficiary designations on these accounts should a spouse dies unexpectedly. Otherwise, they have no legal rights to these accounts/monies.
A common misconception is that marriage gives a spouse the power right to make decisions for the other spouse in the event of illness/accident/ incapacitation. To make sure that a spouse is the only one who can make legal/financial and medical decisions, each newlywed spouse should execute a durable power of attorney, a HIPAA, a Health Care Proxy and a medical advanced directive, also known as a “living will” and a will.
- A Durable Power of Attorney provides the power for a spouse to make legal and financial decisions should a spouse become incapacitated.
- A Health Care Proxy allows for a spouse to make medical decisions for the other in the event of incapacity.
- A HIPAA allows medical professionals to speak freely with the spouse about the other’s care and treatment.
- A Living Will allow spouses to be clear with one another about end-of-life treatment and final wishes.
- A basic Will is important even if the happy couple has very little in the way of assets. This is especially important if there are children from previous relationships involved. Some couples may even want to opt for a Trust.
One very important thing also to consider is to always name an alternative besides a spouse in the event of an accident where a couple ay both be injured and/or incapacitated and cannot make decisions.)
Many newlyweds may Even if a newlywed couple does not have many assets, it is still good practice to execute basic wills that leave all assets to their spouse. Furthermore, if the newlywed couple has real estate property and wishes to place property in a living trust, it is important to consider adding a will.
©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street, Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton MA 02375. This article is for illustration purposes only. This handout does not constitute legal advice. There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article. DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout. Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney. Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.