Couples who choose to marry later in life have different concerns than those marrying earlier, and a good Savannah estate planning lawyer can help you make the right decisions for your circumstances. Each situation is a little different, but there are some fairly common topics that should be considered:
- Do the husband and wife have grown children? If so, then the estate plans will likely need to include specific instructions regarding how inheritance will work. This is fairly important to ensure that each biological and stepchild receives what the parent wishes, rather than allowing Georgia laws to supersede your desires.
- Does each intend to be the beneficiary of the other? Older couples who marry may already have their own plans for their estates, and sometimes these don’t involve one another at all. If spouses do not intend to inherit from one another, they will likely need a legal agreement that clearly spells this out. Without it, spouses will almost always inherit, despite plans that were made to the contrary.
- Who will pay medical expenses? If one spouse becomes ill, it may be the responsibility of the other spouse to help pay for medical expenses. A prenuptial agreement can help to limit this, although Medicaid rules will supersede a prenuptial agreement when it comes to determining eligibility.
- Is one partner widowed? Some older couples today have chosen not to marry because it can stop pension or social security benefits from a previous marriage. This is something that should be carefully explored with your Savannah estate lawyer.
- Should you have joint accounts? When older couples marry, it is sometimes recommended to keep assets separate. This extends to bank accounts and titles on property. Any assets that are in both names can go to the survivor, even if a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise was in place.
An additional role of the estate planning lawyer may be to help older couples uncover other areas of concern that are not obvious at first glance, such as updating old legal documents to reflect the new relationship and advising on tax and asset protection strategies for the married couple.
Finally, when it comes to administering the estate, older couples usually do best by choosing an independent trustee. The passing of a loved one notoriously brings out the worst in people, so naming either your or your spouse’s child as the trustee can have unexpected negative consequences. Your estate lawyer in Savannah can help you identify a good candidate or even recommend a trust company to keep your will or trust from being ignored or misused.