For Married Couples
Planning for Married Couples
Serving Clients in New York City and the New York Metropolitan Area
Marriage comes with new rights and responsibilities. If you already had an estate plan created when you were single, then you must bring your estate plan up-to-date to reflect your spouse/partner. There are special inheritance plans for surviving spouses, such as tax planning to take advantage of spousal tax credits.
Many married couples believe that they have the natural right to make decisions for each other, whether personal, health-related or financial, when a spouse becomes unable to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Without proper documents appointing your spouse as your decision-maker, your spouse will not have legal authority to make fundamental decisions for you – not even those affecting both of you. For example, medical privacy laws will deny your spouse/partner access to your medical records or the ability to consult with your physician(s) and make health care choices if you are unable. There are financial laws which limit control over your spouse’s finances held solely in their name such as retirement accounts.
By appointing a decision-maker for yourself using proper estate planning documents, whether it be your spouse or another, you can avoid a future crisis. If you don’t appoint a decision-maker when needed, a guardianship judge will select one for you. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse or an appropriate family member, the court process to accomplish this is long, expensive and can be a burden to your spouse/partner and family.
Additionally, without planning ahead, depending on how your assets are titled and how your beneficiary designations are arranged, you may inadvertently disinherit your own spouse. If not corrected your spouse will need to sue your estate to receive their rightful share!
Fortunately, we can help you avoid any unwanted probate processes by replacing an impersonal state-written creative and estate plan life together we designed together for your married circumstances and objectives. We can even assist you with coordinating the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy(s) and retirement plans and other assets with your estate plan in order to avoid unpleasant and unintended consequences.
Other Areas to Consider when Planning for Married Couples:
- Tax planning to take advantage of the beneficial tax rules for couples
- Unlimited tax-free transfers between spouses
- Special tax rules that favor planning for spouses and minor children
- Legal obligations to support your spouse and minor child(ren)