Getting married is an exciting and memorable time in the lives of most people. As you prepare to get married or if you already have, there are likely some issues that you have only just begun to consider. There are some key details about estate planning that you should remember whether you recently got married or have been in a marriage for several decades.
Be Open With Your Spouse
One of the best places to begin when estate planning with your spouse is to be honest about your future and one another’s expectations. Not only does this include adequately planning for the future, but you should also make sure to address how you would like the situation handled if either one of you passed away.
Do Your Best to Equalize Estates
People commonly overuse the marital deduction, which only ends up delaying the taxes that a person ends up facing. The spouse who is left with the couple’s estate should instead engage in some creative estate planning to reduce the amount of taxes that they will owe. Remember, a person can utilize the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption to pass some assets to a loved one without this amount being subject to taxes.
To achieve the maximum value out of an estate, spouses should do their best to equalize estates. This means that each spouse should have approximately half of the property in their name.
Consider Utilizing a Bypass Trust
Assets that are transferred to a bypass trust qualify for the estate tax exemptions. These trusts are referred to as bypass trusts because assets placed in them bypass a spouse’s estate. It is possible to eliminate taxes by leaving the maximum tax-free amount to the trust then passing the rest of your assets to your spouse. While it might sound at initial impression like bypass trusts exclude the other spouse, this is not true. Instead, if the other spouse needs assets to support their lifestyle, assets from the trust can be used to pay the spouse. Bypass trusts can also pay income to your heirs as necessary while your spouse is still alive. Trusts can also pay income to other assets while needed while the other spouse is alive.
Do Not Overlook Family Dynamics
No matter where you live, one of the issues that can complicate your estate plan are problematic family dynamics. If you are in the process of creating an estate plan, consider how each person in your family interacts with every other. Additionally, previous marriages, as well as children, can make estate planning an even more nuanced challenge. While it is possible to consider family dynamics when creating an estate plan, you must remember to be honest about these situations and to address them fully when planning for the future.
Speak With an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
Marriage, as well as parenthood, is an exciting part of a person’s life. By making sure that you have a sufficient estate plan in place, you can fully protect those you love in case you suddenly become incapacitated or pass away. Contact attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free case evaluation.