Wedding season is upon us! If you’re reading this you may be a newlywed or on your way down the aisle, and if so- congratulations! Estate planning for newlyweds is the best way to start your marriage out with peace of mind knowing you and your spouse are protected. There’s so much that goes into planning a wedding that it can sometimes be overwhelming and once the day arrives it’s over before you know it. What many don’t think about is what happens after the wedding? Maybe there’s a honeymoon to celebrate the new nuptials, but when you get home the tasks aren’t over. Talking about your long term goals and having your affairs in order is the best way to solidify security in your financial life and your future by having a solid estate plan that you both agree on.

You may think that once you’re married your spouse immediately becomes the person that would be responsible for your decisions if something were to happen to you, or that any property or assets would automatically be transferred to the other. While states will each have their own laws regarding marital property and such, it’s always best to have a clear estate plan and the right documents to show what your wishes are for your assets and even your healthcare choices. Here’s the estate planning documents you should have after you’re married.

Estate Planning Documents for Newlyweds:

  • Will or Trust- A will or trust will document your wishes for your assets in the event of your death. Having a will or trust will help your spouse or loved ones to avoid the probate process, which can take a long time and can be costly. Not sure if you need a will or a trust? Check out our guide here
  • Power of Attorney- This document will give the person of your choosing control over your financial matters. So if you were to get into an accident and not be able to make decisions for yourself, this person would take over and manage your financial affairs. A Power of Attorney for your healthcare decisions should be made as well. This will appoint someone to be in charge of your medical decisions if you are incapacitated and need an advocate. 
  • HIPAA Waiver- Just because you’re married doesn’t mean your spouse automatically has access to your medical information. Having a HIPAA waiver listing out who your healthcare providers may release information to will protect your spouse or loved ones from any issues finding out your condition.
  • Advanced Directive or Living Will- A Living Will documents your wishes for your healthcare including pain management, end of life care, and any healthcare related decisions. This document is a good one to have, especially if you aren’t able to speak for yourself, this will help give your Power of Attorney guidance if they are needing to make your healthcare decisions for you. 
  • Updating Your Beneficiaries- In many cases your spouse is your beneficiary of any 401k accounts or life insurance, but if you set up these accounts prior to you getting married, or maybe this isn’t your first marriage, then make sure you are updating any necessary accounts to the benefit of your spouse should something happen to you. 

This may seem like a lot, but compared to planning a wedding, estate planning is a piece of cake! It’s best to consult with an estate planning attorney in your area who can guide you on the relevant laws in your state. If you are in Illinois or Wisconsin we can help! Message us here to learn how to get started. 

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.