Newlyweds – Planning the Future
You planned your dream wedding – the food, the flowers, the music, the honeymoon.
Now you are married. What planning do you need to do now?
It is important to put together a plan to care for yourself and each other in the event of a tragedy. All married couples, newlyweds, new parents and couples in the autumn of their lives need to have estate plans – to care for one another – in sickness and in health.
A disability due to an illness or injury could cause major legal and financial challenges in a marriage. A little planning now could prevent a disaster later.
We are each legally responsible for our own health care, and financial decisions. No one else has the ability to do this for us, even if married. A spouse is not automatically able to make all medical decisions. He or she does not have access to assets that are in the name of the disabled spouse. This includes bank accounts (savings and checking), retirement assets, and investment accounts. In fact, the healthy spouse will not even be able to file a joint income tax return for the couple.
Therefore, it is important to have in place those legal documents which appoint each other to be the patient advocate in the event of medical disability and agent for financial and legal affairs.
If these documents are not in place, the healthy spouse could be forced to file an action in Probate Court for a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship. This takes time and wastes valuable resources. It is public.
Take the steps now to avoid this costly disaster in the future. Execute a Durable Power of Attorney for legal and financial affairs. Also appoint your spouse as your Patient Advocate through a Patient Advocate Designation (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care).
These documents should be part of your estate plan. While you may not have accumulated significant assets together yet as you are just starting your lives together, it is not too early to plan your estate. Make sure that you and your spouse can care for each other.