When married couples in the Colorado Springs or Centennial area start estate planning, it is often from a position of not knowing much about the process. While the process itself is not too difficult as long as you make sure you hire an attorney at an experienced estate planning firm, there are some issues that will require some special attention on your part. If you are a married couple and want to begin estate planning, here are a couple of issues you’ll want to think about.
Married and Incapacitated
The prospect of losing your ability to make choices is not something most people like thinking about, but it is an issue your estate plan will need to address. This is especially true if you have, or plan on having, children. If your children are too young to care for themselves and you and your spouse become incapacitated, do you know who would take over parenting responsibilities? If you haven’t made an incapacity plan, you have no way of guaranteeing whose responsibility it will be. Talking about who you’d want to step into the parenting role should you and your spouse no longer be able to care for your children is a conversation married couples need to have as soon as they learn they are pregnant.
Inheritances and Spousal Rights
When people make inheritance choices they are generally able to leave their property to whomever they wish. There is, however, one key exception to this general rule, and it applies to married couples. Spouses are automatically entitled to receive at least a portion of a deceased spouse’s estate. Even if you make an inheritance plan that doesn’t include your spouse, the law allows your spouse to receive a share of your estate regardless.
Depending on your circumstances, planning around a spousal inheritance share, or choosing to refuse it, might be something you will need to think and talk about. For example, if you do not believe you will have enough of an estate to guarantee that your spouse will be able to live comfortably after your death, you might want to plan on leaving your entire estate to your spouse.
On the other hand, if you have enough to guarantee that both you and your spouse will be fine in the event of the other’s death, choosing to refuse the spousal share might be a better option. If your spouse chooses to refuse his or her share of your estate, you will then be able to use that portion as you would any other inheritance.
For more information, attend one of our estate planning workshops in July. One of our experienced attorneys will cover a range of estate planning topics and pitfalls . Seats fill up quickly, so be sure and register!