Estate planning, just like many other aspects of your life, can be very complex. In general, estate planning is putting down in writing how you plan to handle your property after you die. It also documents how you intend your loved ones to make important financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them for yourself. This includes making arrangements with your doctors and health insurance companies to provide coverage for the care of your dependents upon your death.
This article covers some of the most important tips that could apply to married couples regarding estate planning.
That way, you know for certain what is fair regarding the distribution of your assets and other legal matters that’ll be covered in your estate plan.
1. Learn About Marital Deduction
The marital deduction is an essential concept to discuss, and it may be best to consider an estate planning attorney.
This is a smart way of avoiding taxes on your estate by leaving everything to your spouse.
When this is done, the estate takes what’s known as the marital deduction for the amount that your spouse will inherit.
There isn’t any limit as to the amount or percentage of the marital deduction that you can put on your estate plan.
Marital deduction comprises a key feature in most estate plans for married couples.
It provides an opportunity for the remaining spouse to continue living the life they’ve been accustomed to, even in the untimely demise of the other spouse.
All the more is this important when there are still minor, dependent children.
2. Discuss Your Local State Laws
It’s wrong to believe you can draft your estate plan in any way you please.
While you have control over your estate plan’s contents, this control has a limit, dependent on your local state laws.
Hence before drafting all of your estate plans, it’s important that you also go through a thorough discussion on the local state laws that’ll apply to your estate plan.
The best way for you to go through this process in the most accurate way possible is by discussing it with a lawyer.
For example, your lawyer can explain the determination of marital assets, depending on what applies in your state.
Common examples include community property and separate property.
A lawyer can ensure that your estate plan is the most accurate as it should be.
3. Study Your Family Dynamics
Estate plans can also differ not just according to your state but, most importantly, according to your family dynamics.
Not all married couples have each other as their first spouse. Some marriages are blended families.
Both spouses have previously married and have children, or only one spouse has.
Whatever the case, your family dynamics also control the administration of your assets.
A skilled attorney can also help you navigate the intricacies of extended family legal challenges.
4. Understand What Estate Planning Is
Consulting with a seasoned lawyer can also help you deeply understand what estate planning involves (Forbes).
This isn’t just one document but rather a compilation of four important documents to develop a well-rounded estate plan.
These documents include:
An End-Of-Life Plan, which establishes your end-of-life wishes, like arrangements concerning your obituary, funeral, and remains;
A Last Will and Testament, which specifies how you intend to divide your assets after your death and choosing the right executor to administer your estate;
A Power of Attorney, which is necessary to appoint the agent, on your behalf, to handle real estate, finance, and business matters;
A Healthcare Directive, also known as a Living Will, serves as the guide for your family members and healthcare providers as to your medical treatment preferences once you become incapacitated to decide on this matter.
5. Divide Your Assets Among Those You Love
The next important aspect is ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of after passing.
No unexpected circumstances could jeopardize the care and well-being of those who depend on you.
It’s essential to make sure that the decedent’s dependents are provided for, including those in prison, are ill, or suffer from some mental illness.
Dividing your assets among those you love is the best way to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after your passing.
You’re the only person who knows your own life, and death will always come at some point.
It would be best if you considered the importance of estate planning when facing such decisions.
Your decisions today will play a role in your loved ones’ future.
Especially when you’re married and there are children involved, an estate plan can help ensure that your spouse and dependent children still get what they deserve.
Indeed, you don’t work hard all your life to see these assets go to waste.