Whether you are newly engaged or you’ve been married for years, estate planning is a topic every couple should discuss. Since there are many elements involved in estate planning, it can quickly become an overwhelming topic to discuss. To help you and your spouse, our team at Crain & Wooley has put together five key topics every married couple should talk about to get their estate planning in place.
If you need guidance on estate planning, contact our Dallas-Fort Worth estate planning attorneys today at (972) 945-1610 to schedule a consultation!
#1: Community Property
Texas is a community property state, so this is something you and your spouse should discuss when estate planning. A community property state is when each spouse owns half of all assets and income acquired during the marriage. What this means is that each spouse can designate what will be done with “their half” of the estate after their death. Therefore, you and your spouse should both consider how you would like your half to be distributed and plan accordingly.
For example, suppose each spouse wants to leave their half to each of their children. If one spouse were to pass away before the other, the surviving spouse would have to pay out half of the house to the beneficiary child or sell the house to distribute the assets. This is something you and your spouse should consider.
#2: Bypass Trust
You and your spouse should also discuss a bypass trust. A bypass trust is a common way for married couples to prevent double taxation of their assets. Although it has become less effective in tax reduction in recent years, it can help married couples ensure that their assets are transferred straight to their beneficiaries instead of the surviving spouse.
#3: Establishing Child Guardianship
If you and your spouse are both parents to minor children, you should discuss choosing a guardian for your children in the event that both parents pass away. When choosing a guardian, you may want to consider the person’s religious background, household and geographic location, and financial security. You should also talk to the person you choose to determine if they would be up for the responsibility in the event that they were needed.
Although you could choose a guardian for your children using your will, setting it up in a trust is much easier. In a trust, you can choose who would manage money that would be used to provide for them financially and who would be responsible for the child(ren).
#4: Taxes & Trusts
Reducing taxes is an important step during the estate planning process. A trust is a common legal document that can help family members avoid the probate process, obtain assets faster, and reduce estate taxes. Therefore, you and your spouse should learn more about the various types of trusts and how they can help ensure your assets are designated for your loved ones.
#5: Estate Planning Attorneys
Couples should also discuss the importance of obtaining an estate planning attorney. Especially for couples living in community property states, like Texas, each couple will have a different estate planning objective. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that will give you peace of mind knowing that it will achieve your goals. Our team at Crain & Wooley has helped couples throughout Texas achieve their desired estate planning goals. We are here to guide you through every step of the way.
If you need guidance with your estate planning, our team at Crain & Wooley is here to help you. Contact our Dallas-Fort Worth estate planning lawyers today at (972) 945-1610 to schedule a consultation!