Estate Planning for Newlyweds
Published on March 30, 2014 | By Mark NeJame - Orlando Attorney; Vanessa Braeley contributed to this article.
Whether the tan from your honeymoon has yet to fade, or you’re just about to jet off to your destination wedding, the newlywed bliss has an added advantage: newlyweds are generally happy, optimistic and agreeable in their first year of marriage. Take advantage of this harmonious period and tackle your estate planning together! Not to be a killjoy – planning for the future isn’t the sexiest thing – but there are many aspects of the marital union to concern one’s self with.
No matter how you take on the project, there are some bare minimum basics that you both should address:
- Consider updating your healthcare surrogacy document. Discuss who is best to make decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacitation. It may or may not be your spouse.
- Healthcare surrogacy documents are not the same as living wills! Florida Statutes now provide for a written declaration by an individual specifying directions as to use of life-prolonging procedures.
- Revise all testamentary documents (wills) with your attorney. Marriage does not cancel a will in Florida, but a spouse acquired after the execution of a will may receive the same portion of your estate that he or she would have received had you died without a will (at least one-half).
- Change your name by filing appropriate paperwork with the Social Security Administration. The name on a tax return must match what the SSA has on file. Notify your employer of your name change to update all W2s.
- If both spouses work, they should check the amount of withholding to be sure that the amount of federal income tax withheld from their respective paychecks is appropriate. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a Withholding Calculator tool. Complete form W-4 to change the amount of withholding.
- Update all beneficiaries on life insurance policies, annuities and retirement accounts. Meet with a financial planner and the HR department of your employer to explore which tools are available and best for you and your spouse. Most importantly, have an open, honest conversation with your spouse about retirement expectations and what it will take to get there.
Remember, your marriage is organic – it evolves over time, taking different shapes along the way. It is impossible to predict and plan for the unknown, so your marital estate must be modified and fine-tuned every now and then to fit the current circumstances. Baby on the way? Perhaps it’s time to start a trust. Taking care of elderly parents? A larger house may be needed. These are expensive life events, but with the right attorney and the ability to work together, you and your new spouse can plan now to enjoy later!
Orlando Trial Attorney and Legal Analyst