If you asked 10 different couples what their estate planning objectives are, you would probably receive 10 different answers. However, upon deeper probing, you would discover that most married couples share the same basic estate planning objectives.
Getting an estate plan straight with a simply a pad and pen can be difficult, even when it is just about you and your own hopes. What of married couples? While you two may be of one mind (figuratively), there are many individual and “shared” options and values to consider. As a married couple planning for your estates, what should your objectives be?
How, where, and why do married couples come together in their planning? What values or strategies should they work to support? There is no one answer to these critical questions because of everything to do with the couple: their assets, their loved ones, and their many hopes besides. Even unusually distinct couples can find themselves pursuing common objectives using one estate planning tool or another. Forbes has offered a helpful little list of eight common objectives for married couples planning their estates in a recent article titled “Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples.”
The article pegs the eight along general principles and offers a bit more explanation for each:
- Providing for loved ones
- Minimize taxes
- Protect assets passing to surviving spouses/heirs
- Keeping plans simple and inexpensive
- Ensuring privacy
- Ensuring continuing control over assets
- Planning for possible incapacity
- Asset management
As the original article notes, you might not find the need to follow every principle. However, simply looking through the list and considering these common objectives can be a useful exercise. For example, knowing what is NOT important is sometimes just as useful as knowing what IS of importance. Fundamentally thinking along these lines will help you and your spouse discuss the estate planning goals you wish to accomplish. Only when you know your specific goals can you begin to really talk about the means by which to reach them.
Begin a conversation with your spouse and with competent estate planning legal counsel who can help find and utilize the tools to accomplish your joint goals.
Reference: Forbes (May 13, 2014) “Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples”