• Michael Falk

4 Essential Estate Planning Tips for Newlyweds


Once the euphoria of your big day and the relaxation of the honeymoon have passed, it is time to address your lives together as a married couple. Part of the adjustment is ensuring that your estate plans accurately reflect your new relationship as spouses. While your vows end with “’til death do us part,” it is vitally important to ensure that the surviving spouse is prepared if the other passes away.

Whether marrying at a young or more advanced age, here are some basic tips that will get you heading in the right direction.

1. Draft wills

With most marriages occurring at a younger age, not many couples will bring wills with them to a marriage. Even if one or both spouses do already have a will, it is vitally important that it be updated to reflect the change in your marital status. Establishing wills provides for important basic financial planning as you begin your married life.

Wills should include your new spouse, otherwise Minnesota law could dictate how your estate is distributed. A properly drafted will includes who should be appointed personal representative or executor of your estate and how your assets should be distributed. Additionally, a will should address arrangements for children, including guardians and establishing trusts in order to delay inheritance until a specified age.

Drafting and executing your will is an important first step in estate planning. Working with an attorney that understands the challenges that young families face will save you time and money.

2. Prepare powers of attorney and health care directives

Who makes decisions for you when you are no longer capable? The power of attorney designates who makes your financial decisions and a health care directive clarifies your wishes in regards to medical care that you wish to or to not receive. A basic estate plan should include both of these documents, along with your will.

A newly married couple should determine who should serve in these roles in the event your spouse is unable. An honest conversation should also be had regarding specific health care wishes.

Beneficiary designations

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to pass assets after death according to your wishes is by correctly filling out beneficiary designations. Bank, retirement, insurance, and brokerage accounts are just some examples of accounts that will need to be updated. Beneficiary designations identify who the assets of the account will pass to if the account owner were to pass away. If each spouse wants the other to take the assets, you should be sure to so designate. Accounts that have beneficiary designations pass without going through probate, meaning that the will does not control the disposition of these assets.

Completing all beneficiary designations is an important part of an estate plan. An experienced attorney can assist you with this crucial step.

3. Re-title real estate

If one of the spouses owned real estate prior to being married, re-titling the property in both spouses names is a good idea. This could include the home that you will be living in or other real estate that is brought to the marriage. A house that is re-titled to reflect the owners as husband and wife as joint tenants with rights of survivorship means that the surviving spouse will automatically inherit the property if the other should die.

Accomplishing this is a simple process, but one that requires attention to detail in order to do it correctly. An estate planning attorney can assist in this process.

4. Consider existing and new insurance

Insurance comes in many different forms. Properly assessing your needs can save you money and ensure you are protected into the future.

A primary consideration for newly married couples is life insurance. Younger couples have the majority of their earning years ahead of them. With dual income households becoming common today, it is essential to financially protect a surviving spouse should the other spouse pass away. An appropriate life insurance policy can provide financial security for the surviving spouse. Purchasing life insurance as a young person in good health can save money as well.

More than likely, both you and your spouse paid for your own car insurance prior to being married. The good news is that combining your plans into one will likely offer you cost savings.

Newlyweds should also protect that shiny new ring that signifies your love for one another. Usually a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover your new jewelry, however a separate jewelry policy may be a cheaper option. It’s a good time for a couple to shop around for the best option.

We have attorneys that can work with you on your estate plan no matter what stage your at. To speak to an attorney today, call (507) 288-5567 or book an appointment online at www.wardoehler.com/book-online.

Interested in staying up to date on estate planning law and helpful tips? Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter and view previous newsletters at www.wardoehler.com/newsletter.

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