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How Should Couples Begin the Estate Planning Process?

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Let’s face it: mortality is hard to think about, and death is impossible to plan for. What is doable, however, is getting affairs and assets in order to prevent loved ones from inheriting a headache and legal fees in the event of an incident.

In marriage, how should a couple begin the estate planning process? First, understanding that this is a good idea helps. About 17% of adults don’t think they need a will, believing that estate planning is only for the very wealthy. However, no matter how few assets someone owns, completing a few documents can make a huge difference in the future.’s recent article, “Couples: Here’s How To Start The Estate Planning Process” notes that although estate planning can seem overwhelming, taking inventory of assets is a terrific place to start.

Checking who is the beneficiary of life insurance and retirement plans only costs you time. I met with a woman recently who found out all her husband’s IRA funds were going to his ex-wife, because she was still listed as the beneficiary.

Next, make a list of all your belongings of $100 or more in value, both inside and outside of the home. After that, think about how these assets should be divided among family, friends, churches, or charities.

Drafting a will may be the most critical step in the estate planning process. A will can simplify the distribution of assets at your death, as it provides instructions to your family and heirs about how assets are to be distributed, which can avoid unpleasant disputes.

A will can also set out directions for childcare, pet care, or any additional instructions or specifications.

Without a will in place, your assets will be distributed according to state law rather than according to your wishes. Creating a will keeps the state from making decisions about how your estate is divvied up, decisions you may not have intended.

Once you have your assets and beneficiaries set, see an experienced estate planning attorney and have your will drafted immediately. Hey, life is unpredictable.

Another important part of the process is to have a discussion with everyone involved to prevent any legal or familial disputes regarding the estate.

Failure to start the estate planning process can lead to family fighting, misappropriated assets, court litigation, and unneeded expenses. Get going!

Reference: (July 22, 2019) “Couples: Here’s How To Start The Estate Planning Process”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Wills, Intestacy, Guardianship, Beneficiaries