Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Three Estate Planning Mistakes Made by Newlyweds

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Tompkins Law knows that you have a lot on your mind as you plan your wedding, wedding reception, honeymoon, and various wedding festivities that will begin your life as a newlywed. The ceremony, clothes, food, reception, family, honeymoon, and new home have to all be considered, as well as the expenses for these wedding events. However, it is very important that you put estate planning near the top of your to-do list. Make a list with your estate attorney before its too late.















We concluded that there are three common errors made by newlyweds concerning estate planning. Refer to this guide, so that you do not make these mistakes. These mistakes are:

·      Relying only on a will (other documents should be considered)
·      Missing, incorrect, or out of date beneficiary recipients
·      Lack of digital access estate plan

Relying Only On a Will

Tompkins Law suggests that both partners need to visit an estate-planning attorney to update their will and financial paperwork prior to the ceremony. If an accident takes place in the near future affecting one spouse or an unfortunate death occurs, a will needs to be applicable and correct in order to cover the surviving partner. It is important to note that a will should not be the only document to rely upon after a tragic loss.

If a will still has a parent as a recipient or designated executor, the surviving partner could lose his or her possessions as well as the deceased spouse’s possessions. A will never should stand-alone.

An updated will needs to accompany other necessary paperwork created by the estate attorney such as trust instructions and investment allotments. Both the wife and husband need to sit down with an established and expert estate attorney and create this paperwork together.

Finances, expenses, funeral expenses, lifestyle, businesses, assets, debts, prenuptial agreements, children, trusts or trust distribution, and personal property all need to be considered while this paperwork is drawn up. Never rely only on a will, and certainly not an out of date will.  You should also make sure the various documents are in sync with each other. This process should be a joint project.

Missing, Incorrect,or Not Updating Your Beneficiary Recipients

This error goes hand in hand with the mistake of relying upon only a will. A comprehensive estate plan has many aspects to it, but if the changes are not made, only some are made, or if they are incorrectly made then the surviving spouse could be locked out of a business or even worst the family home.

This mistake is the one you most hear of in the news. Commonly, couples approach estate planning with the attitude that they will meet with an estate-planning attorney after they settle in to their new life and have more free time. The problem is we never know what life has in store for us.

If a parent is still designated as the trust recipient and the parent does not care for the new partner then he or she could refuse to do the right thing. Even worse, what if the parent is no longer living? When it comes to money, there is no way of predicting what will happen. An example of this situation can be found in Anna Nicole Smith’s estate dispute due to lack of planning on her and her husband’s part.

Imagine one spouse had been married before, and he or she did not change their beneficiary to their new spouse. This could create a mess for the current spouse in the event of their death. Court battles would ensue and there is no way to know how what the costly court battle would result in. Having to deal with the death of a spouse is tragic alone, but losing your home and fortune in addition to also losing your spouse would be catastrophic.

No Digital Access Plan

How many accounts do you have that require a password? You probably have more than you realize. Some of these accounts may be extremely important, which is why you want to keep the information secure, but the security should not lock out a spouse. If a spouse were locked out an important account or accounts, because they did not know the pin number or code, how would it affect his or her life? Possible pass lock and code accounts include:

·      Bill pay or bill account
·      Banking accounts
·      Debit card accounts
·      Credit card accounts
·      Social media user names and passwords
·      Phone, tablet, laptop, or computer entry codes
·      Banking safety deposit box codes
·      Retirement accounts
·      Investment accounts
·      Music or video accounts
·      Access on the go accounts
·      Email accounts-business and personal
·      Mailbox access code
·      Storage unit code
·      Lock box or safe codes
·      Monthly club codes
·      Gate codes

If you do not know the pin number or password for these accounts for, you could conceivably not be able to purchase necessary items, pay bills, use the debit or credit card, or read important emails. You trust your spouse enough to marry him or her, you need to trust him or her enough to give them the code to all of these accounts and vice versa.

Store these passwords somewhere safe, yet easy to access. Make your spouse aware of the location, and suggest that your spouse do the same for you. If your spouse needs the information quickly, it should not be a problem. In addition, talk to your estate attorney about your rights and use of these codes (after death policies) in your state. Each state has a different policy concerning code use after death. The best policy may be joint accounts with exact passwords for all of these arenas, but that decision is best made by the estate attorney.


As you pick out wedding colors, order the invitations, and select the music for the wedding reception, make it a point to schedule an appointment with your estate attorney. Do this before the ceremony and know you have peace of mind when it comes to your estate and legal paperwork.

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