I’m Ready to Start the Estate Planning but My Spouse is Not

Whether you are young newlyweds just starting out or a seasoned couple celebrating 25 years together, no one wants to think about death or incapacity. Estate planning requires difficult conversations and big decisions. Getting the ball rolling can be a huge challenge. But, while the need may seem more imminent with advanced age, everyone can benefit from getting their affairs in order by starting the estate planning process.

What if one spouse is ready to begin the process but the other is not? Estate planning attorneys totally get it. Starting the process of estate planning can be very difficult, sometimes more so for one spouse than the other. Here are some steps you can take if you find yourself in this situation.

1. Find an estate planning attorney you think is a good fit.
You can start the research process. Talk with friends and family members who’ve worked with an estate planning attorney. Find out what they liked about working with the attorney they chose. Ask for a referral if they seem very satisfied with the office they used. The professionals you use such as life insurance agents and tax accountants might also be good sources for professional referrals. If you find an attorney you’d like to work with, go ahead and set up an initial consultation.

2. Do what you can without your spouse.
Although estate planning requires both spouses to participate, it’s possible to start the process on your own and at least get the ball rolling. Some parts of a comprehensive estate plan are stand-alone documents for each individual spouse anyway.

For example, you can take care of your own advanced healthcare directive to express your wishes to your health care team if you become incapacitated. You can also appoint your powers of attorney for your healthcare and for any individually held assets—naming the person who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Additionally, you can decide what will happen to any personally held assets you may have at your death and design a plan for them.

And, while you won’t be able to include them in your estate plan, you can create a list of all your jointly held assets, which will be easy to maintain and—when your spouse is ready to join the process—you’ll be well prepared.

3. Lead by example.
When you get the ball rolling, you create momentum. Your spouse may be inspired by your action and be ready to join in once you’ve started the process. Oftentimes clients enjoy the peace of mind that comes with beginning the estate planning—taking charge is one way to overcome difficult hurdles like starting an estate plan.

Meet with a Florida Estate Planning Attorney
We are an experienced estate planning law firm, and we understand the dynamics that go along with the estate planning process. Call us today to get started at (321) 804-2915.