Estate planning is an important step to take in order to ensure your property and assets are properly handled and your loved ones inherit what’s intended. This step is especially crucial for unmarried couples. There has been a rise in couples, both same-sex and opposite sex, who live together without marrying. Unfortunately, many states do not recognize common law marriages, which can create difficulties with estate planning and inheritances. If you intend for your partner to receive part of your estate when you pass, then it is imperative to have a specific estate plan in place. Without a will, the state will usually pass on a decedent’s estate to the next of kin, which includes spouses and blood relatives, but not unmarried partners. The following are some steps unmarried couples should take in order to protect their wishes and their significant other.
- Will Creation
Creating a will is the first and most crucial step to take. When creating your will, you can name your partner as a beneficiary of your estate, so they can inherit the belongings you wish for them to inherit.
- Designate Beneficiaries
If you have bank accounts, retirement plan or life insurance policies, you are able to designate a beneficiary who will receive the assets of the account after your death. If you intend for these assets to be passed to your partner, you must add them as a beneficiary on each intended account.
- Title Real Estate
If you and your partner own real estate together, then you may want to include both names are on the title of the property as joint owners with survivorship rights. This ensures that should one partner pass, full ownership of the property is passed on to the surviving partner. If only one partner owns the property, then you can create a “transfer on death” deed and list the partner as the designated beneficiary.
- Create a Healthcare and Financial Power of Attorney
If you were to become incapacitated in any way, a power of attorney has the rights to make financial and/or health decisions on your behalf. If you wish for your partner to have these rights, then you must properly appoint them as your power of attorney. This is the only way they will be able to make decisions regarding your health, finances and assets and property.
Hiring an Attorney
If you don’t already have an estate plan in place, a lawyer, like an estate planning attorney O’Fallon MO trusts, can help you create one fit for your situation. If you do have an estate plan but have yet to include your partner in the plan, an estate planning attorney can help make the necessary revisions. It is important to have an experienced attorney when including an unmarried partner in an estate plan. They can navigate the associated complexities and ensure your plan reflects your wishes for when it is needed.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning for unmarried couples.