Newlyweds estate planning

Marriage is about sharing a life with your partner, which includes financial and estate planning concerns. An estate plan should be updated after any major life changes, including marriage. Newlyweds should address financial decisions, medical decisions, and all other relevant estate planning matters either before or shortly after their wedding day. At Roulet Law Firm, P.A., our team of experienced Minnesota and Florida estate planning lawyers helps our clients create and update comprehensive estate plans. To learn more about estate planning essentials for newlyweds, contact us today at our Minnesota office at (763) 420-5087 or our Florida office at (941) 909-4644 or fill out the contact form on this page and a member of our team will contact you.

Updating Beneficiaries After Marriage

Most people choose to designate their spouse as the primary beneficiary for financial and insurance accounts. A beneficiary is the person designated to receive the funds of the account when the account holder passes away. Beneficiaries should be reviewed and updated following marriage and other major life events, such as divorce, death, or the birth of a child.

Newlyweds should review the following types of accounts and consider adding their spouse as a primary beneficiary for each of them:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Investment accounts such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs, and 403(b)s
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Pension accounts
  • Military benefit accounts
  • Trusts
  • Any other property, titles, or assets that currently have a beneficiary

Should Newlyweds Combine Their Finances?

Marriage is often viewed as both a romantic and financial partnership, which is why many married couples choose to combine their financial accounts. However, there is no law requiring spouses to do so. Combining finances may be the right choice for some couples, while others may be better off maintaining separate accounts.

Combined accounts often make sense for younger newlyweds with limited money and assets, as combining has perks such as better credit, more funds for large expenses like real estate down payments, and easier taxes. Couples with large amounts of savings and successful careers may also choose to combine accounts, but some of these couples may prefer to maintain financial independence by keeping their accounts separate. Couples who do choose to combine their finances should consider addressing the following types of accounts:

  • Open joint banking and credit card accounts
  • Consolidate health insurance policies
  • Sign up for family car insurance and mobile phone plans
  • Retitle ownership documents for titled assets such as vehicles and real estate properties
  • Cancel duplicate accounts for subscription services such as Netflix

Creating or Updating a Will as Newlyweds

If one or both new spouses already had a Last Will and Testament before the marriage, these documents should be updated following the wedding. When neither spouse has a Will, each should create one as soon as possible. A Will is especially important for couples with children or who plan to have children in the future, as this document will establish who will be named guardian if both spouses pass away while their children are still underage.

Some states allow married couples to create joint Wills. These are available in Minnesota but are not recognized in Florida. Mirror Wills are a common choice, in which each spouse creates a similar Will and leaves their assets to the other. Florida Statutes § 732.301 and Minnesota Statues § 524.2-101 dictate that surviving spouses automatically receive an intestate share of the deceased spouse’s estate. However, a Will is still necessary to allow each spouse to set their terms on how their estate should be distributed and how other important matters, such as guardianship, should be handled. If you have questions about Wills or other estate planning essentials for newlyweds, you can learn more by speaking with the Florida and Minnesota estate planning lawyers at Roulet Law Firm, P.A.

Do Spouses Need Power of Attorney in Minnesota and Florida?

In general, well-constructed estate plans should include both medical and financial powers of attorney. These documents are used to grant another person the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself. Spouses frequently name each other as both their medical and financial powers of attorney.

Although marriage does grant certain legal rights, neither Florida nor Minnesota automatically grants the authority to make medical or financial decisions on behalf of an incapacitated spouse. Thus, it is highly advisable to set up these documents as part of an estate plan after marriage.

Medical Power of Attorney

Also known as a healthcare power of attorney, a medical power of attorney is a legal agreement that grants another party permission to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make these decisions on your own. These decisions include the treatments you receive, the types of procedures you want to refuse, where you would like to receive medical care, and which healthcare providers you would like to treat you.

Newlyweds should also consider creating a living Will alongside their medical power of attorney. This document is used to notify medical providers and the designated power of attorney of your wishes regarding medical care.

In Minnesota, a medical power of attorney and a living will have been combined into a single document known as a health care directive.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

A durable financial power of attorney is an arrangement that allows someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf. Without a power of attorney in place, a court may need to make these decisions on your behalf. When this happens, the court may make choices that would have been against the wishes of the incapacitated individual. Both medical and financial powers of attorney for spouses are automatically revoked upon divorce in Florida, Minnesota, and many other states.

Get In Touch With Our Florida and Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyers

If you have recently gotten married, you may be wondering about estate planning essentials for newlyweds. A comprehensive estate plan is key for married couples. Without a plan in place, major financial, medical, and family decisions may be left to a family law court, which could make decisions that do not reflect your wishes. At Roulet Law Firm, P.A., our dedicated estate planning team help our clients create and update comprehensive estate plans that address all important matters. Contact us today at our Minnetonka, Minnesota office at (763) 420-5087 or our Sarasota, Florida office at (941) 909-4644 to learn more about estate planning for newlyweds.

And, if you would like to learn how to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for your family to manage your affairs during incapacity and after passing, while ensuring your assets only go to whom you want and how you want, click here to register for our FREE online masterclass.

If you would like to learn how to protect your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs, click here to download our FREE guide Save our Home: How to Protect Your Home and Life Savings From Long-Term Care and Nursing Home Costs.


Chuck Roulet
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Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, Author, and Speaker
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