In many couples, one takes more control of the household finances than the other. That can range from paying the bills to choosing which investments to make. Naturally, one partner may have more interest or knowledge in certain areas, but it becomes unhealthy when things get too one-sided. It is something to be aware of when estate planning.
In the same way that many men are left wondering how to feed themselves when their wife dies, many women have found themselves struggling to access the full range of assets they own when their husband dies. While you can leave instructions in the estate plan, sharing the information while alive is better. The last thing one of you needs is to waste time trying to access joint funds when you should be mourning.
While you can and should do some of your estate planning independent of each other, there will be a crossover, so it pays to consult with each other.
Contradicting each other could cause problems
Let’s say you have a young child. If one of you dies, the other will raise the child. Yet, if both of you die while the child is still a minor, a guardian will be required. Imagine the complications if you name your sister in your estate plan and your spouse nominates their brother in the estate plan they make. How would a court decide which of the two people should take the role if you as spouses could not agree?
You also need to look at the financial aspects together
What happens if you want to leave your share of the house to your daughter from another marriage. How can you ensure your spouse will honor this wish if you die first and she needs to continue living in the house? There can also be tax advantages to doing certain things jointly.
Secrecy does not benefit anyone when estate planning, so getting guidance together can help you find a solution that covers all situations and respects both your wishes.