An “I love you” will might sound sweet and like the perfect option when you are in a thriving marriage with your spouse, but estate planning takes more than just love to create something that will stand the test of time. If you are estate planning with your spouse, you will face many choices for your assets, and it is important to think of the future rather than the present when deciding on options such as last wills, trusts, and gifts. 

Choosing an “I love you” will can be an option, but it is one to consider closely as you are planning your future and the future of your loved ones. 

Understanding an “I Love You” Will

An “I love you” will is as simple as it sounds. It is the act of one spouse leaving their entire estate to the other spouse upon their death. Additionally, upon the surviving spouse’s passing, the estate will be passed down to any children. 

You might commonly see it written as, “Upon my death, I leave my entire estate to my spouse, and upon the death of my spouse, the estate will go to our children.”

It is short and concise, which is why so many couples choose this option. It seems as if it covers everything, and there is no more estate planning to do. However, a will like this can lead to many issues down the road and should be closely analyzed to ensure it will truly cover the well-being of your assets. 

Reasons Why Some Might Choose This Option

  1. They are a newlywed couple who simply want to check off estate planning from their to-do list. 
  2. A couple is writing their wills for the first time without guidance on protocols or proper estate planning. 
  3. Estate planning is emotional and draining, and those writing the wills wish to do so as quickly as possible with the simplest of plans. 

Why an “I Love You” Will Should be Reconsidered

Despite its simplicity, an “I love you” will has issues regarding estate planning. It should be carefully considered and maybe reconsidered depending on your goals. 

Firstly, it will still go through the probate process, which is long and sometimes expensive for those involved. If you wrap up your full estate within one line of an “I love you” will, you could leave your spouse waiting months to finally inherit your assets. This also allows the public to view your estate and your assets. 

Secondly, you effectively disinherit your children from your estate. When you hand over your full estate to your spouse, they are now considered their assets to do as they wish. Your children are not protected. 

Thirdly, your assets are unprotected. Once your assets are handed down to your spouse, they have complete control over what happens to them next. If they decide to remarry, have more children, open a business, or anything else, they can use your assets in ways they find fit. If you had plans for your assets, an “I love you” will does not protect them. 

Finally, this type of will leaves your assets open to tax burdens. Depending on what you are handing down, you could be handing down a tax burden to your spouse. If you do not wish for this to happen, it could be time to consider a trust instead. 

What Estate Planning You Can Implement Instead 

An “I love you” will could be a great starting point if you are newly married and want to get something down on paper. However, it should not be a long-term solution. Instead, you should choose to look into writing a proper will, setting up trusts for your larger assets, and preparing detailed plans for your assets and beneficiaries so your wishes are appropriately fulfilled long after you are gone. 

Estate planning can be challenging to do alone, so as you and your spouse start the process, finding an estate attorney to help you on your journey could be wise. An estate attorney can ensure that each of your assets is properly managed, protected, and planned for in the future. If you have further questions or want to start your estate planning, contact the team at Hartmann Law.