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Basic estate planning needs for married couples

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Estate Planning |

The decision to get married provides people with a degree of protection when medical emergencies occur. A spouse can pay someone’s bills and take responsibility for guiding medical decisions about their treatment. Some people take for granted the idea that marrying protects them in the event of an emergency. They may even assume that their children and other dependent family members have protection because their spouse can take over their responsibilities.

Despite those assumptions, married people do still have a degree of vulnerability. There are certain estate planning moves that most married couples need to make for optimal personal protection.

Wills help to ensure an appropriate legacy

Someone’s spouse has protected rights of inheritance when an individual dies without a will. However, depending on the circumstances, there might be other parties with a partial interest in the estate other than a spouse. People often want to specifically designate certain assets for their spouses in their estate plans. Wills are therefore important for the proper distribution of someone’s resources after their passing. People with higher-value assets may also consider creating trusts.

Children still require consideration

Married couples with children could end up in a situation where neither adult can meet the needs of the children. One spouse could end up in the hospital at the same time that the other passes away. Both could die at the same time in the event of a car crash or similar tragedy. Therefore, married couples with children typically need to name a guardian even when they assume that their spouse can take over parental responsibilities should an emergency occur. Parents may even want to create a trust to preserve assets for their children instead of risking a guardian assuming control over everything.

Living documents provide guidance and support

Married couples can rely on one another to handle financial matters and medical issues when an emergency occurs. However, people need to recognize that their spouse might struggle with the stress of an incident that puts someone in the hospital and leaves them incapacitated. Powers of attorney can be useful estate planning tools for married individuals because they allow someone to name an individual other than their spouse to take responsibility for financial matters and medical issues. Advance directives clearly outlining someone’s medical wishes can also be important, as spouses may sometimes struggle to recall the details about an individual’s preferences when an emergency occurs.

Married couples who embrace the estate planning process can protect themselves and each other even if there is some kind of emergency. Creating an estate plan can afford both spouses greater protection and peace of mind throughout their marriage.