As a married couple, you’ve worked hard to build your life together. Whether you’re a newly married couple in your 20s or 30s, or you’re headed towards retirement, it’s crucial that you develop an estate plan to protect yourselves and your assets. Several federal and state laws provide married couples with tax and legal benefits they can utilize when estate planning.
Consult With An Estate Planning Lawyer in Mississippi
At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, our lawyers have extensive experience in the area of estate planning for married couples. We will help you protect your assets, prepare for incapacity, and prepare for retirement. After carefully listening to your goals and understanding your financial situation, we will develop an effective estate planning strategy for you as a married couple. Contact our Mississippi estate planning law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Benefits of Estate Planning for Married Couples
Many Mississippi couples mistakenly believe that they can make healthcare, personal, and financial decisions for each other just because they’re married. This is not the case, however. Without proper estate planning, your spouse may not have the legal authority to make important decisions on your behalf, and vice versa. When you work with an experienced estate planning lawyer, you can rest assured that your spouse, and not someone you don’t trust, will have the authority to make decisions for you.
Without an estate plan, your assets could be subject to Mississippi’s intestacy laws. As a result, the probate court will distribute them according to state law instead of how you would like them to be distributed. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, we can help you avoid these common pitfalls and protect yourself and your spouse by creating a comprehensive estate plan.
Tax Planning for Married Couples
Keeping as much of your hard-earned income as possible is an important goal of estate planning. You can avoid paying taxes on your estate when you leave all of your property and assets to your surviving spouse. Your estate would be able to take the marital deduction for the amount that your spouse inherited. Thankfully, there is no limit to the marital deduction. Taking advantage of the marital deduction will help you provide your spouse with the assets he or she needs to maintain his or her lifestyle.
Protecting Your Assets With a Trust
Many married couples choose to make “I love you” wills in which they leave their entire estate to their spouse. Depending on your financial situation, creating “I love you” wills could be the best option for you. However, if you have a high-value estate, own a business, have minor children, or are parents to an adult child with special needs, you may want to consider creating a trust-based estate plan.
A trust is a legal instrument that allows you to transfer your assets into the trust so that assets may be overseen and managed by a trustee of your choice for the sole benefit of your beneficiaries. There are many different types of trusts ranging from irrevocable life insurance trusts to revocable living trusts. Each type of trust serves a unique purpose. Our skilled estate planning lawyers can help you determine which type of trust will best protect your assets and meet your goals. A correctly formed and funded trust will allow your spouse to access money quickly after your death instead of having to go through a lengthy and costly probate process.
Protecting Your Children With Your Estate Plan
If you have minor children, you can protect your children through your estate plan. Appointing a guardian for your children is one of the most important aspects of an estate plan for married couples. The person you select and name as the guardian of your children will be responsible for caring for them if you are unable to do so because of illness, incapacity, or death. You can appoint different guardians for each child if you choose to do so.
We can also help you create a trust and name your children as beneficiaries so they will have immediate access to your funds if you pass away. When you create the trust, you can appoint a trustee who will manage the money for the benefit of your children until they become adults. Children are unable to directly inherit assets and if proper planning is not done in advance, the child’s inheritance often ends up in a court conservatorship where it cannot be spent without advance court approval. Proper planning includes providing for a trustee to manage assets for any child that may inherit, thereby giving the trustee the authority to use the assets for the benefit of the child beneficiary.
Parents of adult children with special needs should also consider creating a special needs trust. Your adult child will be able to draw assets from the trust, through the trustee, to pay for expenses such as education, activities, housing costs, and vehicle expenses. Your adult child with special needs will not be penalized for the assets in the trust and will not be at risk of losing important public benefits such as healthcare.
Incapacity Planning for Married Couples in Mississippi
What would happen if you or your spouse became incapacitated and couldn’t make decisions? Our estate planning lawyers can help you prepare for this type of scenario. We can help you create a durable power of attorney in which you will appoint your spouse to act as your agent. Your spouse would be able to make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
Similarly, we can help you create an advance directive or medical power of attorney giving your spouse the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. It’s difficult to imagine being incapacitated, but with the right legal tools, you can prepare for that possibility and protect yourself and your wishes.
Contact a Mississippi Estate Planning Lawyer
Are you interested in discussing creating an estate plan, or in working with an attorney who can review your estate plan? If so, the attorneys at Palmer & Slay, PLLC, are here to help. We will carefully review your financial situation and listen to your needs and goals. We will help you protect your assets, prepare for incapacity, and protect you and your spouse during your lifetimes. Contact our Mississippi law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.