Till Death Do Us Part – Estate Planning for Surviving a Spouse

When we take vows with our spouse, the future and an inevitable loss of your loved one seems lightyears away. Years of marriage can entwine two people so that daily life becomes inconceivable without one another. From large decisions like building a home and raising a family, down to who holds the Netflix password or reminds the other to take their daily vitamin – spouses depend on each other for nearly everything. Surviving a spouse in the event of illness or tragedy is not something anyone wants to consider, but asking the hard questions and understanding your spouse’s wishes in the event you need to honor them will ensure that you can respect what your spouse truly wants without having to guess. While having important conversations on hard topics like end of life care or assigning a guardian for minor children can be uncomfortable, even painful, they are necessary to protect your property and family. This is another important piece of marriage where spouses can work together to keep the other safe.

What do you and your spouse need to consider, and what decisions do you both make together? We are here to help cover the important topics.

  • End of life care and wishes. It’s important to discuss what kind of care your spouse would want as far as medical treatment and even funeral preferences. In the event your spouse becomes incapacitated and needs a caregiver long-term, how will you find a caregiver or tackle this financially? What happens if you as the caregiver die first?
  • Every state is different so it is important to know or have a legal team who knows how your state works in regard to property and distribution of assets according to state law. What assets are considered the property of both people? Do you file taxes jointly, have a joint bank account or own a home together? All of these items and more need to be discussed with your estate planning lawyer.
  • Assigning a guardian for any minor children. This is the most important piece of the plan you and your spouse need to come together on. Creating a trust can help secure how your children are provided for financially as well as who will take care of them physically should something happen to one or both of you. Making these difficult decisions now ensures your children have the proper care as well as avoid the painful and costly process of probate court if you do not have the right kind of trust in place to help carry out your spouse’s wishes.

We know that having these kinds of conversations can be difficult, which is why we have some tips to get you started. If you would like more guidance and assistance in this area or are ready to begin creating your Estate Plan, contact our team today.

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