Are you in a relationship, but not married? More and more people are getting married later in life or never getting married at all. However, there are significant issues you may face if you do not create an estate plan with your significant other.
Here are a few ways you can protect your unmarried partner:
Create a Will or a Trust:
You and your partner share a home, although it is titled in only one of your names, and you have purchased the property together. While you both are healthy and doing well, there are few issues in your life. However, if one of you were to pass away without an estate plan, or one of you becomes incapacitated, your surviving partner may be facing some serious challenges.
If you pass away without an estate plan, your partner has no legal right to inherit anything from you. Resulting in; your partner being potentially forced to sell your shared home, deal with shared debts, and the distribution of what you did have together to your biological family members and not to your partner. Maybe this was not your intended goal. Please don’t leave it up to the court system to divide your assets and potentially leave nothing to your partner. Creating an estate plan is the only way to make sure your unmarried partner inherits assets from you.
Many people think estate plans are only for the super-rich. That is not true. If you have a home, bank accounts, or meaningful keepsakes, you have an estate and need an estate plan. You need to discuss with your partner and an experienced estate planning attorney how you want to distribute your assets to those you love after you have passed away.
Create a medical and financial power of attorney documents:
The unimaginable has happened, your partner was in a car crash and is in a medically induced coma. They are no longer able to voice their opinions on what they want to happen to their body. You now are burdened with paying bills, managing business matters, and making sure your lives continue to run. Without the proper documentation – a financial power of attorney – you will not be able to do any of these things.
Another essential document for unmarried couples is a medical power of attorney. This document allows you to state your wishes for your body if you cannot make those decisions yourself. The document also allows you to make decisions on behalf of your partner should they become incapacitated.
This can become an incredibly stressful and tumultuous time for couples and families, especially when there are different opinions of receiving life support and end-of-life decision making. Make sure this process is planned out for your partner and family with sound estate planning documents.
Update beneficiary designations:
Designations are another tool unmarried couples can use to make sure the other is taken care of financially. Ensuring you update the beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement accounts allows you to leave those assets for a specific person. Without naming or updating these beneficiary designations, the asset will most likely require probate court involvement. It could go to your biological family members. That may or may not be what you wanted at all.
Even though updating beneficiary designations can be a useful tool, your estate planning discussions should not end here. Meet with us here at Thacker Sleight and document your and your partner’s wishes in an estate plan.