Estate Planning Lawyer in Abingdon, VA
When two people marry, both spouses will have responsibilities and rights that other non-married individuals won’t. For instance, married couples have the right to inherit assets from their spouse after he or she passes on. For couples who are considering writing a will together, it is important to understand how tying the knot can impact property and other assets. While getting married can certainly be a time of joy and celebration, couples must not forget to create documents that reflect their wishes within the marriage for what is hopefully many years to come.
Except for very rare instances, spouses have the legal right to inherit a portion of their spouse’s property after death (whether a will was written or not). Only wives or husbands who have agreed to be excluded from a will won’t receive a part of this inheritance. Spouses who want to know more about inheritance rights may want to meet with an attorney to understand how their state laws may impact them.
Marital property is viewed as the assets acquired throughout the marriage. Any separately owned property that was bought or inherited prior to the marriage continues to belong only to that spouse. However, the spouse can choose to list their husband or wife in a will as the beneficiary of this property if they so desire.
If the spouse didn’t leave behind a written will, then the surviving spouse shall receive an amount the court deems appropriate based on state intestacy laws. Spouses who don’t want the courts deciding what their significant other gets, can create a legally-binding will with assistance from a legal professional.
Some spouses may consider creating matching wills. But, whether a married couple’s situation is suitable for a matching will depends on their circumstances. For example, couples who have simple assets and a small and non-blended family structure, are more likely to benefit from matching wills.
Those who have more complex family relationships and several large assets, may want to establish separate wills that still include the other. In a matching will, both spouses agree to leave most of their estate to the other after passing, and once each spouses dies that property automatically transfers to any shared children or another appointed person. Matching wills can be best for spouses who don’t have a long list of beneficiaries to consider, or who don’t have any assets outside the marriage.
A matching will is probably not the best arrangement for spouses who have a blended family or are unable to agree on who shall receive certain property and assets after passing away. For some, when two people enter marriage together they may feel motivated to keep things as tied together as possible. However, individual wills can meet the specific needs of each spouse while still respecting in the other in the ways they wish. After consulting with an estate planning lawyer in Abingdon, VA, the married couple can decide together what kind of will is going to be most suitable based on their needs.
Contact The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into estate planning and marriage.