Can Unmarried Couples Engage in Estate Planning?

Can Unmarried Couples Engage in Estate Planning?

Estate planning for couples is not limited to those who are legally married. If you have a partner with whom you are very close, you should still prioritize estate planning to ensure he or she inherits your possessions after your death. Otherwise, if you pass away without a valid will, the state’s laws will dictate where your property goes after your death — and it will not go to a partner to whom you are not married. Instead, it will go to your closest living relatives.

Below is some key information about estate planning for unmarried couples:

Using wills and trusts

If you have assets you care about, you should write a will, no matter how much those assets are worth. This will allow you to designate which property you wish to leave to which recipients, including your significant other. Writing a will is neither difficult nor expensive — it just takes a commitment to actually sitting down and doing it.

You may also use a living trust to leave assets to your partner. This trust performs the same general functions as a will, but also allows your partner to avoid the hassles associated with probate.

Own assets in joint tenancy

For high-price items you own together, it is sometimes a good idea to get both of your names on the record as official owners. This includes real estate. Cars, on the other hand should usually not be held jointly. If one of you should die, the other will automatically own the property outright without the need for any ownership transfers if you own the asset as joint tenants with right of survivorship.

Use beneficiary designations

There are certain types of assets you cannot share or would not include in your will. For example, various retirement and insurance accounts will offer you the opportunity to name a beneficiary. You may choose your partner to be your designated beneficiary, which means he or she would inherit the funds in the account after your death.

For more strategies to use in your estate planning if you are not married, meet with a skilled Tampa attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.