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Estate Planning for Couples: Questions You Need to Ask

It is difficult to think about the possibility of your spouse’s death but being unprepared for the future will leave you in an even more difficult situation.  Will you be financially prepared if you lose your spouse?

By taking the time today to discuss estate planning with your spouse, you can prepare for whatever the future may bring and help to provide security for yourself and your family.

Here are some questions you will need to discuss with your spouse:

How much life insurance will you need?

Many people rely on whatever life insurance they are provided through their employer but the coverage is often inadequate for families.  In order to estimate the amount you will need, add together all of your long term expenses including your mortgage, debts, and any child-related costs such as daycare and college tuition.  Both you and your spouse should have life insurance, even if one of you does not work, as you will need to cover the expenses that a stay-at-home spouse provides such as child care.

What are the details of your life insurance policy?

If you tend to rely on your spouse to take care of the household’s financial management, you should still know the basics about your life insurance coverage.  Ensure that you understand what company holds the policy, how much coverage is provided, how much it costs and when it will expire.  It is best practice to review your life insurance coverage once per year with your spouse to make sure the policies still meet your needs and that your beneficiary information is still correct.

Do you have all the necessary legal documents?

You will need to prepare your will which is a legal document in which you designate who will receive your assets after you pass away.  You will also need to name an executor to manage your estate and if you are a parent, name a guardian for your minor children.  If you don’t prepare the appropriate documents, your estate will be settled according to state inheritance laws which might not align with your personal wishes.  It is a good idea to consult with a trusted estate planning attorney to help you prepare your will, trusts and power of attorney documents.

Do you know where your financial and estate planning documents are stored?

It’s important that you keep your financial and estate planning documents in a secure place and that both you and your spouse can locate them easily.  Create a one page document that lists information about bank accounts, policy numbers, insurance information and the locations of other pertinent documents and digital passwords.  When the time comes, you will not have to deal with the additional stress of tracking down these details when you are already dealing with challenging emotional and logistical issues.

It may be difficult to have discussions about the end of life but it should be a priority.  The time you spend preparing for the future will be the best gift you can give to your loved ones.

Let us help you plan for the future.  To discuss your specific needs with a wills and trusts attorney in Pittsburgh, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online.