Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

If you and your domestic partner are not married, you are not guaranteed the same rights to an estate as an individual who has tied the knot with formal nuptials. Regardless of whether or not you and your partner function in a marriage-like relationship, you need to have a marriage license in order to gain automatic inheritance of your partners' possessions. If you want to leave your estate to your partner, then you will want to take initiative and start you estate planning.

Estate planning is critical for people that live with a partner that they are not married to, because the probate courts will not handle your inheritance the way that you may prefer if you die intestate. This is why it is very important that you consider your possessions and what you want to leave your partner. You will want to document your wishes in a formal will that is drafted with the careful supervision of an attorney. This will ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death in the future.

According to Wealth Counsel, everyone has an estate plan. If you don't create your own, then one is created for you by the court. This is a default plan that prefers a person's spouse. If a decedent is not survived by a spouse, then the finances and property will be distributed to the decedent's children. If a decedent is not survived by children then the property will be transferred to immediate family members such as brothers and sisters. In this arrangement, a domestic partner has no stake in the fortune of an intestate decedent. It is almost a guarantee that a nonfamily member such as a domestic partner will not receive any of your assets if you do not take action to prevent this possibility.

If you want to make sure that your domestic partner is taken care of, then you can set up a joint ownership with your loved ones. If you share a home with that person, you can create a joint ownership for the property. This means that the property will not need to undergo probate in the event of your death. Instead, the joint ownership will be transferred fully to the other owner of the property. If both you and the joint owner pass away, then the estate will have to go through probate.

Before you decide to commit to joint ownership, it is important to know that jointly owned assets will make you susceptible to a partner's misuse of the property. Also, you will be equally responsible for any debts on the property, and there may be income tax or gift tax issues as a result of the joint ownership in the future. Only create this arrangement with a partner if you are sure that you can trust that person. It is often very tough to remove a joint owner from an account, so you shouldn't ever think of this arrangement as a reversible one. You also won't be able to leave that joint owned asset to anyone other than the joint owner.

You can also establish a revocable living trust which will keep you in charge of your estate until your death and then permit your property or finances to be passed on to a desired beneficiary. This trust will allow you to avoid the costs of probate and designate how much property or financial payment is given to your beneficiary and at what times. If you want more information about setting up a trust, a joint ownership, or a will that will include your domestic partner, then hire a probate professional to assist you today!