The Top 5 Estate Planning Tips For Unmarried Couples

If you’re an unmarried couple in a serious relationship, you’re likely already sharing many of your assets. You may live together, share a vehicle, or even have children. Even though you and your partner may not be ready for marriage, you may want to begin planning your estate in the event life throws some surprises your way.

Here are the top 5 estate planning tips for unmarried couples who are seriously dating:

1.      Plan Your Estate Early

After you and your partner have established a true commitment, it is important to begin planning your estate early on. While that doesn’t mean estate planning is meant to be rushed, it does mean that both parties should consider it once they are serious and committed.

At one point or another, you and your partner’s estate will come into question after one partner passes away. It’s important to be proactive now to prevent chaos in the future.

2.      Make Your Partner Your Attorney-in-Fact

What will happen to you or your partner if one of you were left in critical condition because of a car accident? In situations like these where the couple is married, the spouse not involved in the crash could make financial or medical decisions on their behalf. Couples who are not married, however, do not have this legal right—unless, of course, they have a durable power of attorney.

This document allows you to appoint your partner as your Attorney-in-Fact, authorizing them to make critical decisions on your behalf. Once you’ve decided you two are ready to take the leap, contact an estate planning law firm in your area.

3.      Give Your Partner Funeral Authorization

Did you know that in many states, your partner can be excluded from your funeral proceedings? Without a valid marriage certificate, partners in many states receive about the same rights as your friends. For serious and unmarried couples, that can mean distant, or even estranged family members have more claim to funeral proceedings than surviving partners.

With an estate plan in place, you can prevent this kind of conflict. Ask your attorney about including funeral authorization, as well as cremation or burial instructions in your will and/or trust.

4.      Place Your Assets in a Will or Trust

Depending on where you live and the laws in your state, failing to put your assets in a will or trust can leave the probate courts to decide who gets your estate. Typically, in most states, your assets would be assigned in the following order:

  • First, to your surviving spouse or children (not unmarried partner),
  • Then, to the parents of the deceased if there is no spouse or children,
  • And finally, to the siblings of the decedent.

In most states, because you are not married, your partner will not have any claim to your property. Creating a will or trust for your assets will allow your partner to claim what you’ve left for them without undergoing costly probate procedures.

5.      Hire a Qualified Attorney to Plan Your Estate

This may seem like a no brainer to some, but to others, there remains the question of whether an attorney is even necessary.

Estate plans are legal documents that require in-depth knowledge of your state laws and practices. For many couples, both married and not, gambling with their legacy by DIY-ing their will and trust is simply not a risk they’re willing to take.

To get in touch with a qualified attorney, click the button below to contact Dana and Associates, LLC. We’re always available to answer your calls with professional estate planning, completely personalized for you.

Click the button below to get in touch, or call (480) 924-4424 to speak with a lawyer now.

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