Estate Planning for Non-Married Couples

Now more than ever, it is extraordinarily common for adults in a serious relationship to cohabitate without every getting married. Although this is becoming more socially acceptable, it puts couples in a sort of legal limbo when it comes to estate planning. As a recent article explains, estate planning is essential for non-married couples who want to leave their estate to one another.

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Couples who do choose to marry are given certain inheritance rights. Even if a deceased spouse fails to leave a will or attempts to disinherit his or her spouse, the surviving spouse has certain rights to the deceased spouse’s assets. Couples who are merely cohabitating do not have this same right of inheritance. Therefore, if one cohabiting adult wants the other to inherit his or her property, it is essential to execute a will or trust. Another way to pass assets to you co-habituating partner is to name them as the beneficiary on your bank, retirement, and investment accounts.

It is also important to plan for incapacity. Co-habituating adults are not legal family, and therefore have no automatic rights when it comes to medical care and visitation. Therefore, adults who want their cohabitating partner to have visitation rights and or the ability to make medical decisions for them when they are incapacitated need to execute a health care power of attorney.

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