Some call it a “Hallmark holiday” or a “jewelry and chocolate industry plot,” but Valentine’s Day has achieved critical importance in our modern society. For many couples, Valentine’s Day serves as a referendum on their relationship. What gifts were received? How thoughtful were they? Was the holiday romantic? Where do both sides see the relationship going? Is this the final straw in a decision to file for divorce? As strange as it might seem, the external pressures of Valentine’s Day often force couple ask these questions – which may cause significant actions and consequences for your estate planning.
For some couples, it’s “for better or worse, until death do us part.” For others, it’s “so long as it’s better and not worse, and I’m probably another marriage or two away from death.” The Maryland estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates are not here to judge, but they are here to put you in the best position possible.
If you are a madly in love couple, but not married as of this Valentine’s Day, then this can prove extremely problematic from an estate planning standpoint. Perhaps you live together, share everything, and care for each other very much. Unfortunately, the law does not care. In the event or your loved one’s untimely demise, you will only be entitled to your share of jointly-owned property, and their family will receive everything else – unless you have a proper estate plan in place. You don’t have to get married to ensure your loved one’s future, but you do need to give them the gift of an estate plan.
Suppose that you are married, and your relationship grows deeper and stronger every year. Is that something that your estate plan reflects? Do you even have an estate plan to ensure that your spouse receives the proper support in the event of your passing? Remember, only a relatively small amount of your potential future assets will go to your spouse if you do not at least have a will in place. Even if you do have a will in place, have you structured your assets and estate plan in such a way as to provide maximum support for the love of your life? If you are unsure about the answers to these questions, then you should consider giving a gift to yourself and your spouse by contacting an experienced estate planning attorney immediately.
In a worst-case scenario, the Valentine’s Day events, or lack thereof, may be a signal to you that the end of your relationship is near. As unfortunate as this realization may prove, it does not mean that you should stop thinking about your estate planning. In fact, divorces and similar major life changes are automatic catalysts for re-examining and appropriately amending your estate plan. You should give yourself the gift of knowledge and consult a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. After all, it is critical that you protect your underlying interests as you go through a difficult, expensive ordeal.
Relationships are often rewarding, but also complex. With proper attention and the right guidance, estate planning can prove extremely rewarding with free of future complexities. Every adult in a relationship should carefully examine their estate plan, or lack thereof, at least once a year. Why not use Valentine’s Day as an occasion to engage in that examination? After all, estate planning is about providing security and certainty in the face of major events which impact both you and those you love.
Contact the Maryland estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates and give you and your loved ones the gift of certainty this Valentine’s Day. Please visit the estate planning attorneys at Altman &Associates at one of our convenient office locations in Columbia and Rockville. Contact us by phone at (301) 468-3220 or online to schedule a consultation.