We talk a lot about estate planning for families and married couples. But the fact is that there are thousands of long-term couples that are not married, and some may not even be living together. Estate planning is even more important if you are in a relationship where you are not bonded by marriage. If you would like your partner to access your assets or be involved in health decisions down the road, you will need to draw up legal documents specifying your intent.
Marriage legally binds a couple, automatically giving health care access to the spouse and naming the spouse as a beneficiary if something were to happen to the other. Without the marriage certificate, these automatic rights are not present.
It’s vital to get your affairs in order and prepare for the unexpected, especially if you fall in the category of an unmarried couple.
5 Estate Planning Tips for Unmarried Couples
You may shrug it off and think that everything will work out when you or your partner pass away or become incapacitated. However, even when everyone knows you’ve been together for years, legal documents are needed to gain access to the rights you may think are automatically bestowed.
Here are 5 essential steps to estate planning for unmarried couples:
- Name a Financial Power of Attorney: State your partner to have access to your accounts and assets.
- Appoint a Healthcare Power of Attorney: Name your partner as someone who can make choices about your healthcare if you were to become unable to.
- Put Joint Assets in a Trust: In order to avoid probate on a home or a large piece of property, you can place it in a trust with your partner appointed as a beneficiary.
- Specify a Pay-On-Death Beneficiary: At the very minimum, you can name your partner as a pay-on-death beneficiary. Your accounts will become payable to your partner upon your passing.
- Write a Letter of Instruction in Your Will: Include instructions in your will explaining how much your partner means to you and your intent on all you want them to have after your death. This will help make sure your instructions are clear and honored.
The more you outline your intentions that include your partner in your estate plan, the more smoothly the distribution of assets will go after your passing. Avoid family drama and legal fees by drawing-up an iron-clad estate plan with a trusted professional.
Estate Planning in the Temecula Valley
Shoup Legal is your local estate planning law firm in Temecula and Murrieta. We’re here to work with you through every step of the estate planning process, ensuring that your partner has legal access to your assets if the unexpected were to happen. Call (951) 445-4114 or email us at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help you gain peace of mind.