Sharing finances is one of the cornerstones of marriage. You share your income and pool your resources to achieve the best standard of living possible for your family. Given that you manage most everything together, you might take for granted that your spouse will just receive everything they should when you die.
People often worry more about their children than their spouses when planning their legacy. However, your spouse could be vulnerable to the loss of value in some of the property you share or to delays in getting access to resources that can help them immediately after your death. The following three tips that can help you maximize your spouse’s protection if something happens to you.
- Revisit how you hold the title to your home and other major property
How you hold real estate, motor vehicles and other valuable assets will influence what happens to that property when you die. Especially for property that is legally only in your name, the potential for probate delays and other complications arises.
For real estate holdings, estate planning might include transferring the property into a trust to bypass probate altogether. You could also change how you hold title to joint tenants with rights of survivorship so that your spouse has the right to retain ownership and tenancy of the property.
- Set a transfer on death designation for accounts
Keeping certain financial assets separate during your lifetime makes sense. This practice protects you from commingling losses if you ever divorce, for example. However, if you are the only person who owns a financial asset or account, your spouse may have to wait to access those resources or even share them with other beneficiaries, like your children.
Creating a transfer on death designation for your major accounts will allow them to immediately pass to the ownership and control of your spouse without probate or any obligation to split the balance with others.
- Create a robust living will with all necessary documents
Will your spouse need to take control over your real estate business if anything happens to you? Will they need to manage bills by accessing accounts not held in their name?
Planning for your incapacitation with financial power of attorney documents and other documents that provide medical authority and guidance will protect your spouse from difficulty if you wind up harmed but do not die. A living will also serves to protect you by ensuring your spouse can handle necessary financial and medical decisions for you.
Planning your estate with your spouse in mind or reviewing your estate plan to make sure you have the right protections in place can give you both peace of mind.