ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THESE 5 MAJOR LIFE MOMENTS?
There are some moments in life it’s impossible to prepare for on an emotional level. But when it comes to your finances and estate planning, it is possible to be proactive. An estate planning lawyer can help. Estate planning can help you at all times in your adult life, but you will see the greatest benefit the earlier you begin. Here are five key milestones where estate planning is essential:
1. When You Get Married
Before marriage, you probably only had yourself to think about. Now, you have a partner who may rely on you in some way for support. Even if you don’t provide for their quality of life, you likely would prefer that they receive your belongings, such as your home, car and valuables…or would you?
After you’re married, if you don’t want certain belongings to pass to a spouse if you die, you will need a will to clearly state your wishes. Do you want your parents to receive some of your assets? Once you are married, the law will assume that the vast majority (the first $200,000 and 3/4 of all remaining assets) will go to your spouse, with 1/4 of the remaining assets to go to your parents. You may want everything to go to your spouse, or you may want to take care of a sibling or some other relative- if this is the case, you need to have at least a will to set out your wishes in a legally enforceable way.
There are additional ways an estate planner can help when you’re a newlywed. You can set up power of attorney for each spouse as well as fill out healthcare proxy forms. Make sure you can each make financial and medical decisions for the other in the event of an accident or injury – you’ll be thankful you did if you ever find yourself in a critical situation.
Getting married is a joyous occasion that you may not want marred by long discussions about death and disability, but this is a major life change, and now is the time to talk it out with your new spouse and your estate planner.
2. When You Have a Child
Is there anything more life-changing than welcoming a child into the world? Now you truly do have another human being depending on you for support, and estate planning helps you make sure you do just that.
If you do not have a will, and your children are also the children of your spouse, the law will give everything to your spouse. This tracks what most parents of young children would instinctively prefer- that the other parent has all the resources needed to take care of the children- but it does not necessarily protect your children if your spouse were to later die or remarry and start a new family.
Other questions you will need to answer as you become a parent include who will care for your children if you die? How will your assets be distributed among your children? Comprehensive estate planning includes detailing your wishes, setting up a trust and planning ahead so your family receives as much support as possible in the event of your death.
3. If You Get Divorced
No one goes into marriage with the intention of divorce, but sadly, it’s a reality. Divorce brings a whole range of estate planning questions. Have you changed the name of your account beneficiaries? Would you like to change your healthcare proxy and power of attorney? Should you rename your will executor?
After divorce, you may wish to marry a second time. Again, an estate planning lawyer can help with key issues at this stage. What should a second spouse receive if you die? How will children of a second marriage be provided for? Answer these questions now and save your family hours in probate court and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees.
4. When a Parent Dies
When your parents reach the end of their life, there is a high likelihood that you will be called upon to take over their finances and make their medical decisions. If you and your parents don’t talk about estate planning before they become ill or pass away, it can be very difficult for you to access their accounts and provide the support they need.
What is the correct role for adult children and what are your parent’s wishes? Meeting with an estate planner with your parent beforehand can help you prevent trouble with banks and avoid contention within families.
5. When a Spouse Dies
If you or your spouse were to pass on, are you prepared for all of the imminent financial decisions that will result? Do both of you have at least some immediately liquid assets (like joint savings or life insurance policies) that will help the surviving spouse deal with expenses right away? Working with an estate planner ensures either you or your spouse has a strategy to deal with estate tax and bypass probate.
Why Work with Us
Slnlaw LLC is a full-service estate planning firm that also offers individual services. In other words, we will design a service package that fits your specific needs. We understand no two people are alike, but everyone needs a detailed, knowledgeable estate planning lawyer to navigate the often confusing laws and regulations. Let us help – call today to set up a consultation.