When a spouse is reluctant about estate planning

Georgia couples might reach an impasse when one spouse wants to undertake estate planning and the other does not. In the absence of that spouse's cooperation, a person can still take steps to inventory assets that are held jointly and individually. Knowing what a spouse's assets are and how to access them might be important if that spouse dies and the other spouse becomes the estate's administrator.

People may still be able to do some limited estate planning without their spouse. They can prepare documents that appoint someone to handle financial and health matters in case they become incapacitated. They can also create a will and a trust for assets that belong solely to them. However, someone who is not a spouse cannot be named as a beneficiary on a retirement account unless that spouse gives permission. This means that people will need cooperation from their spouse if they want to name children from a previous marriage as beneficiaries on such an account.

Demonstrating these limitations may help persuade them to participate in estate planning. If the reluctant spouse understands that the law dictates that assets may be distributed in a way that they are not happy with, they might be more inclined to work on an estate plan.

It is not unusual for individuals to be reluctant to tackle estate planning or for family members to prefer to not discuss the subject, but estate planning can be critical to making sure one's wishes are carried out. Furthermore, communication can also be important because it can help prepare family members for what is in the estate plan and why. An attorney may be able to review the many estate planning options that are available including the different uses of trusts.

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