Death and incapacitation are often two of the last subjects on the minds of people who are getting married. However, these issues become even more important when individuals decide to spend their lives together. Regardless of a District of Columbia resident's age or professional status, even basic estate planning needs to be a priority.
Many District of Columbia residents do not believe they have enough assets to need an estate plan. However, even if a couple is just starting out in life, a will leaving everything to each other is still better than doing nothing. Married couples who have children also need a will in order to appoint a guardian for the kids if they are under the age of majority. Without these minimum instructions, family members and/or the government may be forced to make these decisions.
If a person already has an estate plan, it most likely needs some updating in light of a new marriage. In addition to updating wills and trusts, beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance policies may need to be changed as well. In some cases, new documents may be required in order to meet new estate planning wishes. Powers of attorney for health care and finances may also need to be created, or recreated, as the case may be.
Most couples vow to take care of each other as long as they live. With proper estate planning, it may be possible for one spouse to take care of the other even after death. Moreover, each spouse can take care of the other in the event of incapacitation.
Source: recordonline.com, "Bonnie Kraham: Getting married? Update your elder law estate plans", Bonnie Kraham, April 29, 2015