While often associated with long-married couples, estate planning can be equally if not more beneficial to couples who just started their marriage. In this way, newlyweds can dictate the terms of their incipient estate as it grows and not suffer the devastation that often accompanies legal surprises in the wake of an unexpected death.

For example, one of the first things a newly married couple can do is to ensure that their beneficiary designations are up to date. This means reviewing insurance policies, investment portfolios and all accounts that carry named beneficiaries. Couples may also start to consider a desirable course of action for their assets should they both pass away.

Writing or updating a will is critically important. It demands careful and unhurried consideration yet should not be delayed any longer than necessary. Advance medical directives, setting up health care proxies and drawing up documents assigning durable powers of attorney ensure that spouses’ financial and health care wishes will be carried out should a circumstance or condition render them mentally incapacitated.

As couples accumulate complex assets, they might wish to consider how they would like those assets bequeathed. Some opt to use a trust for its privacy and savings benefits, but there are many options from which to choose.

An attorney may help young married couples navigate their options and absorb the complex matters of estate planning to the point that they feel comfortable taking action. Estate planning is a long-term process, and even older couples sometimes wish they had more time to get it just right. Starting too early is not a possibility for married couples.

Luis E. Barreto