Estate planning is a crucial process for ensuring that your assets and wishes are protected and carried out as you desire, regardless of your marital status. For unmarried couples, estate planning is particularly important because the default legal protections that married couples enjoy may not apply. Here are some key considerations for estate planning for unmarried couples:
Wills and Trusts:
Create a will to specify how you want your assets distributed upon your death. Without a will, your assets may be distributed according to state laws, which may not align with your wishes.
Consider setting up a trust to avoid probate, maintain privacy, and provide detailed instructions for asset distribution.
Ensure that beneficiary designations on accounts such as retirement plans, life insurance policies, and bank accounts accurately reflect your wishes. These designations override wills and trusts.
Execute a healthcare power of attorney and a living will. These documents allow your partner to make medical decisions on your behalf and specify your preferences for end-of-life care.
Financial Power of Attorney:
Appoint your partner as your agent through a financial power of attorney. This allows them to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
Determine how you want to own property together. Joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or creating a cohabitation agreement can clarify property ownership and inheritance rights.
Guardianship for Children:
If you have children together, establish a legal guardianship plan to ensure their care and upbringing if both parents become unable to care for them.
Consult an estate planning attorney to explore strategies for minimizing estate taxes, as unmarried couples may not have the same tax advantages as married couples.
Domestic Partnership or Cohabitation Agreement:
Consider creating a legally binding agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each partner in your relationship. This can address property division, financial support, and more.
Plan for the management and transfer of digital assets, such as online accounts and social media profiles, in the event of your incapacity or death.
Periodically review and update your estate plan as your circumstances change, such as acquiring new assets, having children, or experiencing changes in your relationship.
Maintain open and ongoing communication with your partner about your estate plan. Ensure they are aware of your wishes and have access to important documents.
Estate planning for unmarried couples can be complex, but with careful consideration and legal guidance, you can protect your assets, your relationship, and your loved ones. Customizing your estate plan to reflect your unique situation is essential to ensure that your wishes are upheld.
Consult an Attorney:
Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who understands the unique challenges faced by unmarried couples. Call Eastham Law Offices at 561-395-6800 or fill out our contact form to schedule a meeting and we will be in touch. We can help you create a tailored plan that meets your specific needs and goals.