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Estate Planning for Young Couples

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 04/11/2013 @ 12:15 pm In Personal Finance | 6 Comments

“Too many people believe that estate planning is simply for ‘old people’ or ‘rich people,’” says Eido Walny. Walny is the founder of Walny Legal Group, a firm that specializes in estate planning and asset protection.

“Regardless of demographic,” he continues, “there are several important parts to an estate plan that would be critically important to anyone over the age of 18. …Estate planning [3] is more than about death.”

Providing for Your Children

It’s unpleasant to think about your death, but it’s something you should consider — especially if you have children who will need to be provided for if you and your partner both meet an untimely demise. “Wills and living trusts should be evaluated,” Walny points out. “These documents help deal with issues such as guardianship for minor children, transfer of assets, and payment of debts.”

Young couples should also consider life insurance [4] coverage for each partner. That way, if one partner passes on, the other can pay off debts and replace the lost income. Life insurance, coupled with a reasonable will and the right trusts, can ensure that your assets go where they belong.

Items to Think about as a Young Couple

Walny believes that any adult should consider the three following estate planning items, no matter how young:

  1. Durable Power of Attorney: “A durable POA allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf,” Walny explains. If you are incapacitated, but not dead, a trusted agent can act for you.
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney: “The health care POA allows someone to make health care decisions on your behalf,” Walny says. Of course, you need to make sure that your wishes are known before you get to this situation.
  3. HIPAA Medical Privacy Waivers: The requirements of HIPAA can make it difficult for someone to make decisions on your behalf when it comes to health care. Walny suggests that you have waivers that allow certain people access to your medical privacy, so that better decisions can be made.

Estate planning also includes asset protection, which can help you easily pass assets to your partner or your heirs, as well as set up certain tax benefits. “Asset protection for young couples can be a fantastic thing,” Walny insists. “Advanced asset protection can be most powerfully implemented during the phase in life when assets are being built.”

Michael L. Van Cise, Associate Attorney with Arnall Golden Gregory LLP agrees that now is a good time for young couples to get involved with estate planning. Van Cise provides a convenient checklist of items that can be used by young couples to plan for the disposition of their assets [5]:

  • Identify guardians for minor children (this can be done in a will).
  • Trusts for minor children, including the identity of a trustee and successor trustee, terms of the trust for the children, and how the trust will be funded.
  • Life insurance.
  • Beneficiary designations [6] for retirement plans (it’s important to realize that beneficiary designations trump what appears in the will, so make sure you update beneficiaries).
  • Trusts for spouses that might not be U.S. citizens.
  • Probate avoidance (check with state law and a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to help you minimize the issues associated with probate).
  • Powers of attorney for medical and financial issues.
  • Living wills/advanced directives for health care.

Van Cise points out that young couples need to specify a plan now, so that everything is prepared for later.

With advance planning, it’s possible for young couples to avoid piling more trouble on during an already-difficult time.

(Photo: Ken_Mayer [7])


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[3] Estate planning: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/estate-plan-essential-people.html

[4] life insurance: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/life-insurance.html

[5] plan for the disposition of their assets: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/6-documents-you-need-but-hate-thinking-about.html

[6] Beneficiary designations: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/finances-55-seconds-check-beneficiary-designations.html

[7] Ken_Mayer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ken_mayer/5599532152/

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