Estate planning can be simplified when it is for a married couple. When one person passes away, many assets are automatically transferred to the spouse without having to deal with much legal paperwork. If you and your partner have decided not to get married for whatever reason, know that you lose out on a lot of those benefits that come with being married. You may be living together, have bought property, and have many shared assets. Without proper estate planning, there can be a ton of problems that will happen when someone passes away or becomes ill. Here are some things to consider for couples that are not married.
Prepare A Will
If you were to pass away without having a will, your estate would automatically go to the living relative that is closest to you. While this is usually a sibling, it can get confusing when that closest relative was never that close to you. That is why preparing a will is so important for an unmarried couple. Some things that you'll need to state in the will include:
- Who will get ownership of any pets you have.
- Who will be the guardian of any children you have, especially if from a previous marriage.
- How life insurance will be distributed.
- How to set up a catch-all for any assets you may have forgotten about or received after the will was last updated.
Set Up A Trust
A trust is a great way to avoid having the majority of the assets go through probate. Since you and your partner are not married, a trust will allow you to put jointly owned assets into it so that they automatically go to the other person without going through the court system.
Many unmarried couples use a trust for jointly owned property, savings accounts, stocks, and other assets that were supposed to be used to fund retirement. Without taking any steps to distribute these to an unmarried partner, they could potentially go to a relative that you do not want to have them.
State Health Directives
You can use a living will to give each other complete control over all health decisions that need to be made for you if you're incapacitated. It is the best way to ensure that all your wishes regarding health will be followed and remove conflicts of interest with relatives.
For more info on estate planning for an unmarried couple, speak with an estate planning lawyer such as David S. Riehl, Attorney At Law.