Planning for Married Couples
Serving Families and Individuals throughout Huntsville, Alabama and the Surrounding Areas
With each marriage come new rights and new responsibilities. If you already have an estate plan created when you were single, then you need to update estate. Estate planning for married couples is important.
Most married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another because they are married. Nothing could be further from reality!
Without proper estate planning to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, HIPPA laws will not allow your spouse access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return … for starters.
Unless you legally appoint an agent through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you if one is needed. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse, the probate court process to accomplish this is expensive, takes significant time, and exposes your personal, financial and family information to the public record. It also requires ongoing court supervision. It is a hard thing to go through during an already difficult time.
Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who failed to plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers will not reflect your desires for your legacy. It is actually possible to disinherit your own spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate if your assets and beneficiary designations are not updated properly.
Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate both during your lifetime and after death with a personalized estate plan we design together. We make sure you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.