Whether you’re a newlywed or have been married for years, estate planning is probably the last topic you feel like discussing with your partner. But as unromantic as it may sound, putting these details in order will help you ensure a happy and safe future together. Here are a few estate planning essentials.
Take stock of your assets. Sit down with your partner and list all your assets as a married couple. These may include investments, real estate, retirement plans and personal property. If you have individual assets you’d like to keep separate, create a prenuptial agreement or put your property in a trust.
Draft a will. Once you have your assets in order, start drafting a will to specify how you want these items distributed. Your will should also name an executor — the person who will carry out your wishes regarding your assets.
Assign a power of attorney. A power of attorney is an individual who will manage your assets, pay your bills and make other financial decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. This person should be someone that both you and your spouse trust, so take some time to think this through together.
Set up a health care directive. A well-rounded estate plan will include a health care directive, or living will, which will help guide your family and doctors through your preferences for medical treatment should you become incapacitated. This document also appoints a representative to make health care decisions for you.
Make your plans official. Once you have everything in order, meet with an estate planning attorney to put your estate plans on the record.
Finally, be sure to update your documents regularly, as laws or situations are subject to change.