Getting married is one of the greatest joys in life. Once you and your partner have tied the knot, your lives are intertwined — and so are your assets. Assets like houses, stocks, investments, properties and more acquired during the marriage are shared between married couples. Even though it seems like estate planning could be a simple and straight-forward process for married couples, there are common mistakes married couples make in the estate planning process.
Here are three estate planning mistakes to avoid for married couples:
1. Not Providing Designations
Many married couples may think that it’s enough to leave their estate to their spouse in a last will and testament. In some cases, this may be enough. But if both partners pass away unexpectedly or one spouse is unable to receive the estate, the entire estate now has no beneficiaries designated by the decedent, and default Ohio law may decide who inherits. It’s important to include contingent beneficiaries and a back-up estate executor or trustee as part of your estate plan. This is one of the most crucial estate planning mistakes to avoid for couples, as an estate that is not properly allocated could end up in a lengthy — and expensive — probate process.
2. Not Updating Documents
In the case of buying a house, making investments, acquiring new properties, or having children, a common mistake of married couples in estate planning is not updating documents. It’s important to include newly attained assets and new estate beneficiaries, especially minor children, in estate planning. This also includes assets pertaining to children, such as designated legal guardians or trustees and any college or education funds set up in the child’s name. Because minors cannot inherit property in Ohio, parents should make a plan for a custodian or trustee to manage the children’s inheritance in the event disaster strikes and both parents are lost.
3. Not Eliminating Old Plans
When it comes to estate planning mistakes to avoid for couples, many overlook old estate planning documents that could lead to confusion and timely mistakes in a probate process. If there are multiple estate plans on file, they can tangle up the probate process and leave executors confused as to who the beneficiaries are, where assets should go, and the actual value of all assets owned by the couple.
Depending on your assets and the state you live in, there could be more common mistakes of married couples in estate planning. Consult with an estate planning lawyer to further discuss your options in estate planning as a married couple. Schedule your consultation with Abbie Obenour at The Obenour Legal Group for expert advice and legal counsel on estate planning for married couples to avoid these common mistakes and regularly review your plan to ensure it carries out your intentions.