Most people think of estate planning as an exclusive affair that’s only for married couples. The truth is, unmarried couples should also take steps to protect their assets and plan for the future. In fact, unmarried couples have unique estate planning needs that married couples don’t.
Unmarried couples shouldn’t worry, though. There are ways to plan for your future without sacrificing your current lifestyle. Here, we’ll cover some of the biggest challenges that unmarried couples face when it comes to estate planning and how you can address them.
One of the biggest challenges unmarried couples face is how to keep assets in their name. This can be done by establishing joint ownership, where each partner owns 50% of the property.
This establishes both partners as tenants-in-common, which ensures that if one partner dies, the other will have rights to their half of the property. Many clients choose joint ownership because it avoids the potential for probate if one of them passes away.
As such, it provides peace of mind that assets remain between the partners and not in the ownership of someone else. If you need help establishing joint ownership, contact Doane & Doane Attorneys at Law and speak with an estate planning lawyer. Your legal counsel will ensure that you go through the proper channels to establish joint ownership and any other estate planning needs you may have.
Beneficiary designations refer to your adding your partner’s name as a beneficiary to things like your bank account or life insurance. If you don’t designate a beneficiary, then state law will dictate who inherits your estate when you die.
The problem with this is that they might not be the best person to take care of your estate. And because you have no say in what happens to your assets, it could lead to them being wasted or given to someone who doesn’t support your wishes or values.
To address these issues, it may be wise to spend some time with an estate planning lawyer and create documents that designate your wishes for how you want your assets handled after death. You should also talk about how you want any taxes addressed, as well as any debts owed.
It’s important that unmarried couples take steps now so that their legacy can be preserved for years to come. Your estate planning lawyer can help you establish the contingencies that you’re asking for.
Durable Power of Attorney
One of the most critical estate planning tools for unmarried couples is a durable power of attorney. It’s a document that grants one person the power to make financial decisions for another person if they are incapacitated.
If you are in a serious relationship and your partner does not have children, you should consider this document, as it will ensure that your partner can continue to act on your behalf if something happens to you. The two people involved in the durable power of attorney should be trusted individuals who know each other well and have access to all of their assets.
Health Care Proxy
One of the biggest challenges that unmarried couples face is who will make medical decisions if both partners are incapacitated. This decision is known as a Health Care Proxy and is one of the most important pieces of estate planning for any couple to consider.
It’s important to designate someone to speak on your behalf in case you’re unable to do so. Designating someone as your Health Care Proxy is also one way to protect your rights and those of your partner should one or both of you be physically or mentally incapable in the future.
A Health Care Proxy is typically a close friend or family member who has been designated as your partner’s agent when it comes to health care decisions. They have power over what treatment they want and what they don’t want. They can also make arrangements for you before you no longer have the capacity to make these decisions yourself.
One of the most valuable tools in estate planning for unmarried couples is a revocable trust. A revocable trust helps you keep control over your assets. That’s because you can change the terms and conditions of your trust whenever you want to. That way, your loved ones won’t have to go through the trouble of probate when you die.
One of the biggest concerns for unmarried couples is whether or not their deceased partner’s estate will go to them. Your will takes care of this, as it states who you want to get your assets to when you die. That said, when you have joint ownership, trusts, and beneficiary designations in place that name your partner as the sole beneficiary, the need for a will is unnecessary.
Call Doane & Doane to Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At Doane & Doane Attorneys at Law, we specialize in helping our clients with all of their estate planning needs. If you would like to arrange a consultation with an estate planning lawyer, please call us at 561-656-0200 or connect with us via our contact form.