It is important for newlyweds to have wills drafted for several reasons. First, most of the property that you each own is going to be separately owned in the beginning. Under the laws of North Carolina, if you pass away without a will, your surviving spouse is not always entitled to 100% of your property. If you want to guarantee that your spouse is going to inherit everything, you’re going to need a will. Also, for singularly-owned property, your spouse will not be able to handle your affairs in the event of your unavailability or incapacity without a durable power of attorney, and an estate planning attorney can assist you with that as well.
Once married couples start consolidating bank accounts or buying real estate together, this is less of a concern. For jointly owned property, when one person passes, the other person automatically owns the property without there being any need for a will.
Secondly, some important clauses included in a will can ease the burden on your spouse in the event you do pass away. For example, you can draft a will that waives the bond requirement. That is a huge burden lifted – your spouse will not have to pass a credit check and pay a bond premium to administer your estate. Your will can include provisions allowing your spouse to sell your property without court approval; again, your spouse will benefit from not having to pay an attorney to get a court order.
Third, if you are blending families, the only way to leave property to someone not related by blood or a step-child is to gift it to them in a will.
Another benefit to seeing an attorney to discuss your estate plan after you’ve recently been married is to ensure that your beneficiary designations are all up to date. You’ll want to change your beneficiary on life insurance policies and retirement plans, for example, to your new spouse.
Finally, a discussion with an attorney about probate and the benefit to owning joint property cannot be understated if you’re bringing a lot of debt into the relationship. While your spouse is not responsible for your student loan debt, for example, your estate will be – there may need to be some planning involved to pass along property to your spouse instead of your creditors. You may also be able to plan your estate so that probate could be avoided entirely!
If you’re newly married and want to ensure your spouse is protected in the future, the attorneys at Jesson & Rains can help you.
Subscribe to our newsletter.