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.
It is sometimes hard to get a plan for the estate straight, even when it is just you, just your hopes, and just a pad and pen. While you may be of one mind (literally), there is much to think about, values to weigh, and options to select. What of married couples? However close, married couples are not just of “one” mind and, accordingly, as a couple will have that much more to think through and plan. 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 and what values or strategies should they work to support? There is no one answer because this has everything to do with the couple, their assets, their loves ones, and their many hopes besides. Nevertheless, even unique couples can find themselves pursuing common objectives by one tool or another. Forbes 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:
1. Providing for loved ones
2. Minimize taxes
3. Protect assets passing to surviving spouses/heirs
4. Keeping plans simple and inexpensive
5. Ensuring privacy
6. Ensuring continuing control over assets
7. Planning for possible incapacity
8. Asset management
As the original article notes, you might not find the need to follow one objective or another. However, simply looking through the list and considering the common objectives can be a useful exercise. Knowing what is not important is sometimes just as useful as knowing what is of importance, for example. Fundamentally, thinking along these lines will help you and your spouse discuss 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 the tools to accomplish your goals.
Reference: Forbes (May 13, 2014) “Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples”