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  • Writer's pictureJoshua B. Beisker

Newlywed Estate Planning Tips

Getting married is a significant turning point in life that can bring big changes for newlyweds well beyond their wedding day. After spending months (and maybe years) planning your dream wedding and after the excitement of the day subsides, it’s time to consider your newlywed estate plan. As a couple, there are new options and new concerns that you need to be aware of. Below is a summary of some of the estate planning items newlyweds should consider:


Financial Accounts

The following accounts can be updated to reflect a spouse as the new beneficiary or as transfer on death designated beneficiary:

  • Existing Checking/Savings Account

  • Life Insurance: Employer-based and stand-alone policy if you already have one

  • Investments: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

  • Retirement Accounts: 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, 403(b)

  • Military Benefits

  • Pension: SEP/SARSEP

  • Property, titles, and assets that might currently name someone else as the beneficiary (e.g., you named a sibling to receive a benefit that your spouse should now be getting)

Here are some other accounts that newly married individuals may consider creating or consolidating:

  • Open Joint Banking Account/Credit Cards

  • Health Insurance

  • Car Insurance: Look into getting a family (a.k.a. umbrella) plan for the household

  • Mobile Phone Plan: Look into getting a family plan for the household

  • Re-Title Property Ownership Documents: This applies to homes, cars, or other titled assets

  • Duplicate Accounts/Services: Consolidate accounts that each of you owned separately prior to getting married (e.g., Netflix), so you’re not paying for two separate accounts

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a legal document that communicates a person's final wishes pertaining to their assets. It provides specific instructions about what to do with their possessions. It will indicate whether the deceased leaves them to another person, a group, or wishes to donate them to charity.


If you currently have a Will, update it to account for your spouse.


If there will be babies in your future, or you already have kids, this is where you designate the guardians for the minor children if you and your spouse pass away.


Power of Attorney

Your Power of Attorney (POA) has power over everything involving your finances. This includes paying bills, managing bank accounts, overseeing investments, signing contracts, and filing your taxes.


Most spouses appoint each other as the primary agent, and it is prudent to name a successor agent as well.


Health Care Proxy/Living Will

A Health Care Proxy/Living Will is a document that authorizes an agent to make all health care decisions for a principal if he/she is unable to make them on his/her own behalf.


This form also authorizes the agent to make decisions to remove or provide life-sustaining treatment, if you so desire.


Life Insurance

A spouse might already have life insurance through his/her job, but it likely will no longer be enough to support a new family if something happens to a spouse. Newly married individuals should meet with their insurance agent to discuss increasing the amount of the policy.


Identification

You accumulate a lot of identification and official documentation throughout your life. It is good idea to organize all documents in case you need it to buy a house, get insurance, or do other things. Here’s a rundown:

  • Marriage Certificate

  • Birth Certificate

  • Social Security Card

  • Passport

  • Armed Forces ID/Discharge Papers

  • Citizenship Documentation

  • Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

  • Divorce Decree (from previous marriages)

  • Documents related to any children you already have (e.g., adoption or legal guardianship papers)

Digital Assets

Sharing passcodes and passwords to the following devices and systems is extremely helpful:

  • Mobile Phone(s)

  • Computer(s)

  • Tablet

  • Home Security System

  • WIFI

Along these lines, there are many other digital accounts and online services that spouses will be sharing with each other to make sure the household runs smoothly. Here’s a handy list of such things:

  • Password Manager: If you use a password manager, your master password is the most important one to share

  • Home Utilities: Power, cable, phone, etc.

  • Health/Medical: insurance provider, prescription services

  • Financial/Money Management: Auto-payments, budgeting

  • Entertainment: video, music, gaming

  • Food/Shopping/Delivery Services

  • Cloud Storage: Photos, media

  • Travel/Ticketing/Rewards: frequent flyer miles, reward points

Need Help with the Next Steps?

Underberg & Kessler’s Estates & Trusts attorneys can work with you to formulate the best estate planning strategy to meet your goals — in all stages of your estate planning journey. For more information, contact Joshua B. Beisker at jbeisker@underbergkessler.com or 585-258-2879.

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