When a couple agrees to marry, there can seem to be limitless things to plan for — from wedding arrangements, to combining finances, to family considerations and beyond. When having these discussions, one thing that may come up is the concept of estate planning. This is an especially common and important topic of conversation for couples who marry later in life. Here are some estate planning conversation-starters for older engaged or common-law couples in Georgia solidifying their union.
Will we combine our finances or keep them separate?
There are many reasons couples getting married later in life may want to keep their finances separate. Firstly, they have accumulated more wealth over their lifetimes and have more to “lose” if something goes awry. They also might be concerned with protecting the inheritance of dependents, maintaining their credit score or securing their retirement. On the other hand, they may feel that, by combining finances, they will be more easily able to keep the peace and finance their dreams. This is an important conversation and one that will have significant estate planning implications.
What financial obligations do we have to past spouses and/or children?
Most people choose to disinherit ex-spouses after a divorce is finalized. However, this can be a complex decision in some cases. What if an ex is caring for shared minor children or a dependent adult child? What if there are financial obligations written into the divorce agreement? In terms of marital assets, couples may also have to consider children from both the past and current relationship, and how to write each into the will. These are deeply personal decisions to be discussed at length.
Who will we each name as executor and power of attorney?
Many longtime married couples select the same person as executor and power of attorney. This can be helpful for couples who have entangled assets and shared children who can be trusted with these positions. However, couples marrying later in life may prefer to name separate individuals for these roles. Discuss these decisions at length, as they could have an impact if both parties become incapacitated or pass away at the same time.
Discuss all decisions with a legal professional
These conversations can sometimes feel difficult. After all, couples marrying later in life often have two lifetimes to blend. Each may have children, former partners, unique financial circumstances and strongly held values, adding complexity to the planning process. One way to simplify these conversations and clearly understand the options available is to involve a Georgia estate planning lawyer who can provide information and advice, as well as ensure plans are properly documented and legally sound.