Modern families are becoming more complex with every passing year. Now more than ever, it’s common for people to live in a long-term committed relationship without getting married. A report by the U.S Census Bureau has shown that the number of adults in unmarried relationships has gone by 29% since 2007. Roughly half of them are younger than 35 years. Since intestate succession laws protect lawfully wedded couples, the need to have an estate plan for unmarried couples is more important than ever. If you or your partner dies or become incapacitated, your assets will automatically pass on to your parents, children, or kin. If you are an adult in cohabiting relationship, you should look for an estate planning law firm Virginia Beach for consultation.
Why should unmarried couples consider having an estate plan?
Estate planning allows a person to manage their estate and assets when they die or become incapacitated. Estate planning for married couples and unmarried couples works in the same way. The legal system benefits the married couples in the matter of social security benefits, joint bankruptcy filing, joint tax filing, and much more.
On the other hand, unmarried couples don’t exercise the same rights as married individuals. Say, for instance, you are an unmarried couple, and your partner dies without a valid will or estate plan. Since you are not legally married to the individual, you will not be entitled to any Social Security benefits or be part of the probate proceedings. In the absence of an estate plan, you will have no legal rights to your partner’s assets, which you might have help acquire.
Essential estate planning tips for unmarried couples
- Make sure your house doesn’t come under the probate process
Even the mention of the probate process can give people a headache. Without a legal document that provides clear guidelines for the transfer of estate title, the intestacy laws can intervene and take control of your assets. For unmarried couples, there are several ways to avoid the probate process for the estate.
Transferring your estate to a living trust solely created by you or jointly created by you and your partner is the best way to avoid intestacy. The provisions included in the trust will determine whether your partner can inherit your house or have the right to live in it.
Besides this, you can create a joint tenancy for your property. Joint tenancy is a kind of ownership wherein two or more people own a property. Upon the death of anyone joint tenant, the interest automatically gets transferred to the surviving joint tenant.
2. Appoint your partner as Attorney-in-Fact.
Whether you are a married couple or an unmarried couple, you should consider having a durable power of attorney. While most estate planning comes into effect after one’s death, power of attorney allows one to manage their estate during their lifetime.
By nominating your partner as Attorney-in-Fact through a durable power of attorney, you can make sure that your partner is legally entitled to take care of your financial and medical matters in case you become incapacitated.
Whether you choose to opt for a durable power of attorney or living trust, you must consult a qualified trust and estate attorney. Any mistake in creating such documents can render it invalid.