Imagining life after the death of your spouse is something no one wants to do!! It could be a reality, though! Unfortunately, the surviving spouse without a comprehensive estate plan or an estate planning attorney, will have to deal with all the surviving reality on his or her own.
Having an estate plan in place, rather than just a last will and testament, will help both you and your spouse prepare for the future. This is especially important if you have children. An estate plan can include trust agreements, healthcare directives, powers of attorneys, and other supporting legal documents. Each of these documents can help your children navigate the challenges they may face in the future. For your chosen guardian and children, it may be too much to successfully manage without clear guidance and instructions.
Let us share some of the key tips we give our clients when it comes to starting the conversation with your spouse about how best to accomplish your estate planning goals.
Tip 1. It is never too early to begin the discussion.
Starting early is the key to successful estate planning. It is important to think about your long-term planning goals and evaluate your unique circumstances. It may be helpful to begin by reviewing any pre-existing legal documents you and your spouse may have. Discuss whether you wish for all of your finances and assets to be left to your spouse and whether you would like to designate any other beneficiaries of your estate. This part of the conversation may be easier to have under the guidance of an estate planning attorney. He or she can ensure each of your documents are executed according to Florida law and may present additional planning options to you.
Tip 2. Listen to what your spouse is saying.
In reality, your spouse may have different planning goals and needs than you. Being open to discussing differing goals is crucial in having an effective conversation on estate planning. An estate planning attorney is a good resource to turn to for guidance, advice and support for spouses with differing estate planning ideas and goals. He or she will be able to offer planning options that encompass both yours, your spouse’s, and your children’s individual needs.
Tip 3. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions.
As uncomfortable as the topic may be to approach, it is imperative that you discuss whether your spouse may wish to remarry at some point after your death, and vice versa. If so, it may be worthwhile to consider leaving aside some extra funds for your children’s health, maintenance, support, and education. If you do not already, it is also important to have access to all household accounts, including keeping a record of any passwords used. In the event your spouse dies and you do not have access to these accounts, it may be difficult for you to pay bills or obtain important information stored online.
Above all, remember this decision should be made between you and your spouse, and you should try to support each other through the process accordingly. We want you to know that we are here to answer questions and support you. Do not wait to schedule a meeting to get the estate planning help you and your family need!