Discussing what will happen in the event your spouse dies and you are left to take care of your children can be an uncomfortable conversation to say the least. Despite the sensitivity of this topic, however, it is important to start the conversation early. The creation of an estate plan can help you both to prepare for the future and the occurrence of this unfortunate situation. An estate plan goes further than a last will and testament alone as it can also include trust agreements, healthcare directives, powers of attorneys, and other supporting legal documents.
Let us share some important topics you and your spouse should discuss when developing an effective estate plan. We share these ideas with our clients, friends, family, and the professionals we work with when they ask us how to plan for the future of their family.
First, evaluate any preexisting legal documents you and your spouse may have. Do you have a last will and testament? If you do, would you like all of your finances and assets to be left to your spouse? Do you have other designated beneficiaries? Do you both agree on who those individuals are? When were your documents last updated? This is an important step to discuss with an estate planning attorney. He or she can present the available planning options to you that address your unique needs and ensure they are executed according to state law.
Second, ensure you both have access to each other’s accounts or have passwords stored away for an emergency situation. Make sure you also have access to those difficult to reach places, like safety deposit boxes and all bank accounts. If you do not know how to access your spouse’s accounts, it may be difficult to pay bills or get access to important information stored online in the event of his or her death.
Further, consider accounting for the fact that your spouse may wish to eventually remarry. This part of the conversation is undoubtedly going to be uncomfortable. In reality, however, your spouse may choose to remarry at some point after your death, just as you may wish to remarry in the same situation. One of the best ways to plan for this is to decide whether you would like to set aside some money for your children’s health, maintenance, and education in the event that situation arises. When you work with your estate planning attorney, this money can be protected so only your children can access it.
We understand this can be a difficult topic to discuss with your spouse. Do you have questions about this or need advice on how to approach the conversation? Do not wait to contact us and let us know. We are the estate planning attorneys here to help you.