As a newlywed, you’re starting a new chapter of life together with your spouse. One of the most uncomfortable but also vital subjects you and your spouse shouldn’t forget to address early on in your marriage is updating your estate plans. Nobody wants to think about the death of their beloved so soon into their happily-ever-after, but nonetheless, it’s best if you talk it out and prepare for the worst.

Naming beneficiaries

You can start by updating the beneficiary information for your 401(k), IRA and any other retirement accounts, insurance policies, health savings accounts, investments, bank accounts and, of course, your existing wills and trusts. For each, there are several important and potentially touchy conversations you and your spouse need to have in regard to estate planning in case one or both of you become incapacitated or die.

  • Do you want to be each other’s beneficiary or to have a different arrangement?
  • Who should you name as secondary beneficiaries?
  • How should your wills distribute your assets and to whom?
  • How do you want to plan for existing or future children, and who will care for them? 
  • Will your parents or other family members share in your estate?

Once you and your spouse decide what to do on these tough topics, make sure you formally update those wills and various accounts.

Choosing proxies

If you want your spouse to be in charge of your finances or small business should you become incapacitated, you’ll need to put a durable power of attorney into effect and fill out any necessary paperwork. If your spouse doesn’t want to handle your finances, then you should get a third party you both can count on to represent your best interests.

You’ll also want to talk about nominating each other as your health care proxies and writing advance medical directives to specify what you want to happen to you in debilitating medical circumstances, such as when you’re on life support. If your spouse is your proxy, he or she will have access to your medical records and be allowed to make the hard choices about your health care.

Clearly, estate planning is a complicated subject, and it may be a process you’re doing for the first time. An experienced Florida attorney can help take the burden of preparations off your shoulders so that you and your new spouse may have less anxiety for the future and can get back to enjoying married life.