What to Do When Your Spouse Refuses to Participate in Estate Planning
In my practice as an estate planning attorney, I have helped many married couples create wills, trusts, and other estate planning instruments designed to offer long-term security and peace of mind. On occasion, however, I am approached by individuals who recognize the importance of estate planning but who cannot get their spouses to participate in the planning process. If this describes your situation, keep in mind that begging, nagging, or threatening your spouse will probably not do much good. Instead, there are a number of things that you can do to get the ball rolling while encouraging your spouse to get involved whenever he or she is ready.
Do Not Wait to Get Started
Of course, it would be best if your spouse is involved from the start, but if he or she refuses, you should still begin creating a plan. You have the ability and the right to decide what will happen to your assets—those that are yours and yours alone—upon your death, even without your spouse’s participation. Other considerations, such as powers of attorney for property or health care, must be made on an individual basis anyway. There is no need to wait for your spouse to get on board before you make such decisions for yourself.
While you may not have the authority to include jointly owned assets in your personal estate plan, you should compile a list of anything and everything that you and your spouse own together. This list should include savings, retirement accounts, investments, and any other item of value. Maintaining the list can be helpful if you live longer than your spouse and you become the executor of his or her estate. In the unlikely event that you and spouse die at the same time, your surviving family members will have the information they need to handle your jointly held assets.
Set a Good Example and Be Encouraging
As you move along in the process of estate planning for yourself, you can continue to encourage your spouse to get involved. One way to do so is to share some of the benefits that you, your children, and your loved ones expect to gain from each of the steps that you take. You might even ask your spouse to come with you to a meeting with your lawyer, even if your spouse does not plan to say anything the entire time. During the meeting, your spouse may even be inspired to ask a few questions or bring up concerns. At the very least, he or she might realize that the estate planning process is not as intimidating as it seems.
Call a DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney
If you would like to learn more about estate planning and how to get a reluctant spouse involved with the process, contact one of our Naperville estate planning lawyers. At the Gierach Law Firm we provide guidance with all aspects of the estate planning process. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.