“I do . . . hereby declare that this is my last will and testament”: The Importance of Estate Planning as a Newlywed

A husband and wife are returning from their honeymoon. The two reflect on the Big Day and their future together. The husband gently takes his wife’s hand, looks longingly into her eyes and says, “Honey, with all this romanticism in the air, I’ve got an idea: when we get home, why don’t we go down to our attorney’s office and start putting together an estate plan—maybe get a will or power of attorney?”

Let’s face it: this situation has probably never occurred. Chances are it lives purely within the realm of fiction. The minds of newlyweds are occupied by so many things and the “doom and gloom” of death or disability that is considered in estate planning probably does not live at the forefront of such minds.

However, the truth of the matter is that when two people’s lives merge in marriage, such a merger requires planning and said planning should include that of your estate. Many individuals envision a long, drawn-out process when it comes to starting an estate plan and therefore continue to put off the process. However, often the process of starting an estate plan will only become more complicated as time passes: children and grandchildren are born, assets are acquired, family members become ill, and accidents occur.

Getting an early start on an estate plan for your family can be one of the best and wisest decisions you make when starting a family. Consider consulting an attorney about creating the following documents so that you can lay the groundwork for an efficient estate plan that can simply be tweaked as life moves along.

1. Will

The Will is perhaps the most well-known building block of a proper estate plan. A Will allows you to provide for your family in the way you see fit, rather than leaving the distribution of your assets to the laws created by the state legislature. Not only can a Will settle the question of how your property will be distributed, but it can settle the issue of provision for and guardianship of any minor children you may have in the instance that such a necessity arises.

2. Living Will

A Living Will is a document that speaks for you on the issue of medical care and treatment in the instance that you cannot speak for yourself due to permanent incapacity. Without a Living Will, conflict may arise among family members as how to best care for you. Such conflict may result in family members having to go to Court to resolve the issue.

3. Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney allows for an individual or entity to handle your financial and legal affairs in the instance that you are unable to do so in wide array of circumstances from mental incapacity due to illness or accident to being far away from your family and home because of frequent travel.

Although these three documents do not encompass the full-array of estate planning documents you may consider, they certainly provide a solid framework for your financial and legal future. Life as a newlywed is filled with enough “what ifs,” contact our Nashville office about starting an estate plan so that you and your new spouse can have some peace of mind about the fact that at least some of your future is settled. Our team of Tennessee wills and estates lawyers would be happy to help.

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