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If you get married, can you just avoid creating an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Estate Planning

Adults in Rhode Island, as throughout the rest of the country, often make an effort to avoid estate planning. People tend to view the process of thinking about their deaths or medical dependence as very unpleasant and would prefer to delay it as long as possible.

Some people inevitably delay their planning for too long and end up dying or experiencing some kind of medical emergency without the right documents in place. It is common for adults, especially those who have a spouse, to assume that estate planning isn’t really necessary.

However, drafting a will can protect your wishes and also the interests of your spouse or other loved ones after you die.

What Rhode Island law says

If you have children or other direct dependents, there is no guarantee that your spouse will inherit everything from your estate or even the specific property you want them to have. Instead, they may only have the right to a certain portion of the assets that you leave behind.

Rhode Island guarantees the right of a spouse to claim the first $50,000 in assets in an estate, as well as half of the remaining property after that $50,000. Adult children could receive property that you expect to support your spouse if you die without planning your estate carefully.

There are many ways to protect your loved ones

Your unique family situation will influence what steps you take during estate planning. For some people with blended families, a trust could be the right tool. They could allow their spouse the right to stay in their marital home until the dependent spouse dies without depriving their children of an inheritance later.

For those with no other family members, being clear about what a spouse should receive and what goes to friends or other beneficiaries can help them leave a more meaningful legacy for the people and causes that mattered the most to them. Having a spouse does somewhat alter what happens during  estate administration if you don’t create your own documents, but a spouse is also one of the best arguments for the careful creation of a thorough estate plan.

Creating a will helps ensure an appropriate standard of support for your spouse in the future, regardless of what happens to you.