Washington residents and Americans throughout the country may have learned from former President George H. W. Bush a few lessons about how to create an estate plan. For instance, when a couple is married, assets may go from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse. However, this may not be advantageous if the second spouse dies weeks or months after the first one does.

It may be best to have assets go directly to a beneficiary after the first spouse passes on. In some cases, the second spouse can use a qualified disclaimer to renounce any interest in an asset. Those who are married and creating an estate plan may want to include survivorship clauses in a will or trust. This can allow both estates to be probated at the same time if necessary, which can help settle them in a timely manner.

It may also be possible for these clauses to be added after a plan has already been created. When a spouse dies, it is a good idea to review any retirement plan that he or she may have had. This is because there could be negative consequences if money within that plan isn’t put into an account in the surviving spouse’s name. Typically, a beneficiary cannot stretch out distributions.

Taking time to create and review wills, trusts and other estate plan documents could make it easier for that plan to meet a person’s needs. Generally speaking, it is never too early or too late for an adult to create a plan. This is true whether a person is married or single. An attorney may be able to help a person create a will, pick an executor or make other estate planning decisions.