Be a Sweetheart and Remember Your Better Half in Estate Planning

What should you and your spouse do if you own your house, are retired, with a high six-figure nest egg, and no will or trust? 

The Wall Street Journal says, in an article titled "Estate Planning for Childless Couples," that you have two main estate planning tasks: (i) decide what will happen to your property after you die; and (ii) specify the individual who will oversee your medical and financial affairs if you're unable to do so.

As you may recall, if you don't have a will or trust, the state laws will determine who is to receive your assets. Typically the laws say that it will be your spouse if you have no children, then your spouse's relatives after he or she dies, or the state if there are no living relatives.

Without an estate plan prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney, the family of the first spouse to die would be disinherited without recourse.

Similarly, if you'd like to give something to friends or charity, you must have an estate plan. The original article advises the easiest way to do this is to create "sweetheart wills." Each spouse would have a will leaving everything to each other and then detailing the recipients of the assets when you both die.

Sound estate planning also includes signing general powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives to allow another of your own choosing to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Spouses can appoint each other, but it's wise to have "Plan B"-and appoint another younger person to serve after (or with) your spouse or in the event that your spouse passes.

People often are quite honored to be asked; nonetheless, it's a good idea to make provision to pay them for their time. This can alleviate any resentment. One can also leave them something in his or her will, as the alternative.

Take a look at the original article and contact your estate planning attorney to make sure your estate plan is complete and up-to-date.

For more information on estate planning for Gwinnett and Johns Creek readers, visit www.letstalkestateplanning.com

Reference: Wall Street Journal (November 8, 2014) "Estate Planning for Childless Couples"

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