Without revealing my age, I’ll tell you that I am ripe for wedding invitations at the moment, my refrigerator plastered with magnetic “Save-the-Dates” of smiling friends. I don’t know much about marriage, but I have learned a lot about how to be a great wedding guest, and this down-to-earth advice is a great starting point for the special couple in your life.
After several years of stalling, wedding budgets are bouncing back from the Recession and rising once again. As the average wedding budget surpasses $30,000, the spending shows that wedding days are still about creating memories as much as creating a family.
Not long ago, a friend told me she was going to have a “Green Registry” for her upcoming wedding. Wow, I thought, I had no idea she was so environmentally conscious! It turns out they were not asking for eco-friendly household products, as I originally imagined, but the registry was “cash only.” As more couples cohabitate before marriage, the wedding registry becomes less about picking out china and more about funding their post-marriage dreams.
Admittedly, weddings are exciting and enjoyable, but they’re over quickly and then the couple is faced with “Wedding Crash” – the post wedding blues that happen when all the planning and anticipation is behind them. After the wedding, the fun really begins, as couples solidify their new lives together by updating everything from the driver’s license to their Facebook profiles to reflect name changes and marital status.
Here’s some advice you can give the newlyweds this wedding season to ensure their financial health and peace of mind:
- Update the beneficiary information for all insurance policies, existing estate planning documents, bank accounts, 401(k), IRA, and Health Savings Accounts.
- Make an estate plan, if you don’t already have one. A will is helpful, but if you have extensive assets such as property, you’ll want to think about creating a trust, which gives you privacy and avoids probate.
- Power of Attorney. Remember that your will is only enforceable with a death certificate, and you may want your spouse to be able to handle your finances in other instances besides death. This is particularly important for business owners who want to avoid a lapse in business transactions.
- Create advance medical directives (such as a Living Will) and a Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Sign a HIPAA Release form. According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, not even your spouse has the right to your protected health information. You can override this act with a HIPAA Release form, but it needs to be accessible to your healthcare providers in order to be effective.
Deliver this information to the newlyweds in a handwritten card, and you will be the most appreciated wedding guest this wedding season. Remind them that with the right attorney, estate planning can be stress-free and yield great rewards. They can create a solid plan for their wedding china, their future children, and each other. On this solid foundation, they can build a lasting future.