Married With(out) Children: Planning Ahead

It is important to have an estate plan that reflects one’s wishes in case of death or illness, especially for married couples with or without children. Many married couples without children need to decide who they want to leave assets to and who they trust to make their medical and financial decisions in case they are unable. Spouses should look beyond naming each other as their sole representatives and find additional people they trust, including friends, neighbors, or other family members as alternates. Couples should also set up wills that specify exactly how their estate will be divided. Having a will helps avoid situations in which the state grants the entire estate of the first-deceased spouse to his family, leaving the second-deceased spouse’s family with no share of the estate. Couples can also transfer assets to a revocable living trust, or, for the strictest arrangement, irrevocable living trusts, which bar everyone, including partners, from making changes after the spouse carrying the trust dies. Even if kids are not in the picture, there are many things couples can do to establish a supportive network for medical decisions and ensure their estates reach their loved ones.

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