Although it is certainly true that in most situations your estate assets will go to a spouse when you pass away, you may not understand the full implications of this and it is very important to have an estate plan created even as a married couple. If you pass away without an estate plan, the state, not your loved ones, will decide where your assets go.

If you are married, one third to one half of your estate will usually be passed on to your spouse depending on state laws and the rest will be divided among your children and to other living relatives. Without an estate plan, you’ve also neglected the challenges that can arise if something happens to you where you become incapacitated.

Would your spouse automatically be able to make health care decisions for you or access a bank account? It’s important to have back up plans created and to have a power of attorney in place that formally authorizes your spouse or other chosen party to take these steps.

The most basic of estate planning documents for a married couple is a will. If you have a valid will that directs what happens to your assets after you pass away, this will make probate that much easier for your spouse who will be handling the grief of losing you already and does not need the added complexity of trying to sort things out through probate.

Married couples can also double up their annual gifts each year to other people. This means you, together, can gift up to $30,000 total per year per person from both of you.

Have you recently gotten married? Now is the perfect time to complete a thorough review of your estate plan with the help of a NY estate planning attorney.