You’ve found your soulmate, your one and only. The wedding went great. The honeymoon was pure bliss. What now? For newly married couples, there is much to ponder. As you settle into your new life together, you might want to think about estate planning. Here are three reasons why:
- The In-Laws: Ah, the in-laws. Cue the jokes (and yes, the exasperation). Love ’em or hate ’em, in-laws are part of your life. And without proper estate planning, they might become more than just the people who cause you to drink copious amounts of eggnog on Christmas Eve. Did you know that under Oklahoma law, in the event someone dies without a last will and testament the surviving spouse does not receive the entire estate? In fact, depending on the circumstances, the deceased’s parents could be entitled to a substantial portion of the estate. Some would find such an outcome acceptable. For others, however, this is a less than thrilling prospect. That’s why you should plan ahead and make your wishes known in a last will and testament or a living trust.
- End-of-Life Decisions: People of a certain age remember Terry Schiavo. At just 27 years of age, this young Florida woman went into severe cardiac arrest. The resulting brain damage left her in a permanent vegetative state in which she was technically alive but unable to communicate and with no thought or awareness. Ms. Schiavo’s husband sought to remove his wife from life support, claiming that is what she told him to do if such a situation ever occurred. Ms. Schiavo’s parents, on the other hand, fought to keep her alive, arguing their daughter was still conscious. The ensuing legal battled dragged on, during which time Ms. Schiavo remained in a coma. Finally, after nearly 15 years, doctors disconnected Ms. Schiavo’s feeding tube. This horrible situation garnered national headlines, dividing the country. In response, Oklahoma and many other states updated their laws concerning living wills. You can now execute an Advance Directive for Health Care specifying your wishes regarding end-of-life treatment. If you are unable to give informed consent, doctors must follow your Advance Directive. Whatever your personal beliefs about artificially extending life, it is important to have an Advance Directive. You will spare your wife or husband and other family members a significant burden and ensure that your dignity is maintained.
- Your Kids: Nobody wants to think about it, but what happens if both you and your spouse are gone and your children are still minors? Who will raise them? In the absence of proper estate planning, a court will settle the issue. A better route is to name guardians for your minor children in a last will and testament.
So, there you go: three reasons for newlyweds to engage in estate planning. While you are just starting out your life together