Should Newlyweds Have a Will?

by Tamila McDonald
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should newlyweds have a will

As a newlywed, thinking about what may happen if your spouse dies isn’t likely something you want to do. While you may question whether you need a will, ignoring the situation isn’t usually wise. Without proper planning, if one of you were to pass away, the other may encounter a range of challenges that could have otherwise been avoided. If both of you perish, then your family may experience difficulties instead. Luckily, by getting a will in place, you can alleviate much of that burden. If you are wondering why newlyweds need wills, here’s what you need to know.

Why Newlyweds Need To Have a Will

Whether you have a substantial amount of assets or not, having a will is still essential. It determines how your property, investments, and similar items of valuable transition if you pass away. Ultimately, it ensures you have control over the destination of assets.

If you have children, a will can also assign them a guardian. Again, this is an opportunity to make your choice known, ensuring your wishes are followed if you pass away.

Without a will in place, what happens is out of your hands. Your assets will be divided by the probate process, a court proceeding that determines who receives what. With probate, the decisions may not be what you would have chosen. Additionally, the process itself can be costly and may take a year or more to complete.

How Newlyweds Need To Handle Their Wills

Once you are married, updating your will is essential, particularly if you don’t have a will or your current one doesn’t take your spouse into account. Ideally, you want to sit down with your spouse and discuss your assets, both those you have as an individual and those that are held jointly.

You need to decide what happens to your assets on two fronts. First, you need to identify a beneficiary or recipient if only one of you passes away. Second, you need to outline the destination of your assets if you both die at the same time.

If you have children – either together or from previous relationships – you may also need to determine guardianship. With kids from prior relationships, you may also need to engage their other parent in conversation about what should happen if you pass.

Other Estate Planning Updates Newlyweds Need To Make

Along with creating a new will, there are other estate planning steps newlyweds may need to take. One area that many younger couples overlook is living wills and advanced directives. These outline who can make certain kinds of healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself, as well as define any care limits, such as when to refuse treatment.

Setting up a power of attorney may also be a good idea. With this, you can choose someone who can step in and make financial decisions for you if you’re unable. In some cases, you may want to limit the authority, granting them only specific capabilities under certain circumstances. However, you can also go broader if you trust the person not to abuse the powers granted.

Update Life Insurance

Another step you should take is to update your life insurance. Whenever you have a major life change – such as getting married, having a child, securing a raise, and more – it’s wise to review your coverage. You may need to update your beneficiary or change the value of the policy, so take a moment to make sure you initiate those changes.

Finally, you may need to add your spouse’s name – or have yours added – to certain accounts or properties. If either of you brought real estate or certain kinds of financial accounts into the marriage, it’s wise to consider whether you want to make those jointly-owned. While you may not want to in all situations, there could be others where doing so makes sense, so review each property or account to decide which course of action is best.

Did you have a will as a newlywed? If so, what motivated you to create one? If not, what held you back? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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