Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
Proper estate planning is known to be vital for married couples. However, what about unmarried couples? Is it important for them, as well? The answer is yes. Estate planning for unmarried couples is as important as estate planning for married couples. In fact, it may be even more important for couples who live together but are unmarried. Without an estate plan, unmarried couples will not be able to make end-of-life decisions or inherit from each other.
Estate planning serves as a means to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated and to determine who your assets go to when you pass away. If you are in a relationship with someone you care deeply about but are not married, the court could decide on how your assets are distributed if you have not done any estate planning. Without an estate plan, your partner may be shutout of the decision-making and the inheritance. However, there are several ways to make sure your partner is included in your estate planning.
One of the ways to do this is through joint-ownership. What this means is that you own the property jointly, with the right of survivorship, should you or your partner pass away. If one joint tenant dies, their interest ceases to exist. The remaining joint tenants own the entire property. This is also a way to avoid probate.
Beneficiary designations are also important. It may be worth checking your life insurance accounts, your bank accounts, and retirement accounts to be sure you have your partner listed as the beneficiary. Your partner won’t have access to any accounts without specific beneficiary designation naming them. This is also a way to avoid Probate.
Durable Power of Attorney
If your situation calls for it, a durable power of attorney may be right for you. In this case, you may appoint your partner with power of attorney for your financial and legal matters, should you become incapacitated. Without it, if you become disabled or unable to manage your affairs, your finances could become disordered and your bills may not get paid, and this would place a greater burden on your partner. If this were to happen, your partner may have to go to court to ask for a conservatorship, which will cost both time and money. A durable power of attorney will avoid all of that.
Likewise, setting up your partner as a healthcare proxy is also something to consider. This essentially means that your partner would make medical decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated. Without this document in place, your partner may be forced to go to court to be appointed guardian.
Establish a Will
Even with the other provisions mentioned put into place, a will can still be important when you are an unmarried couple. A will allows you to name who will take care of your minor children, should you have them, and it allows you to choose an executor of your estate. This includes paying your final bills, distributing your possessions, filing your final tax return, and closing your accounts.
Establish a Revocable Trust
You may also want to consider a revocable trust, as it allows you to name a trustee and work with that person on your finances and assets before you die or become incapacitated. This allows them to take over, seamlessly, in the event of your incapacity. Alternately a Pure Grantor irrevocable trust may make sense for your assets. Speak to an experienced asset protection attorney to learn which option is best for you.
Contact The Mattar Firm
If you are in a relationship and not married but are considering estate planning, a qualified asset protection attorney at The Mattar Firm can help you make the right decisions for you and your partner. Call us today at 239-222-2222.