Client sitting with estate planning attorney

Why Estate Planning Is Vital for Unmarried Couples

If you are an unmarried couple residing in Southeastern Massachusetts or Cape Cod, contact Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. for an informative, personalized consultation. Our estate planning law practice is open to all and our skilled attorneys are eager to help you plan for the future.

Don’t be fooled into believing that since you and your partner have not taken marital vows, it is not yet time to consult with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys. Depending on your particular circumstances, if you remain unmarried, the law may put your financial, medical, and parental future at risk.

Why Some Couples, Despite Their Commitment, Choose Not To Marry

These days, you and your partner, though you consider yourselves a devoted couple, may decide not to marry for a variety of reasons, including:

  • You are unable to legally marry (e.g. one of you is still married to someone else)
  • You want to make sure your relationship endures before your commit 
  • One partner will lose disability benefits if you marry 
  • You choose not to be bound legally to one another
  • You do not believe in the concept of marriage
  • You plan to marry when you decide to have children

No matter what the reason, you are entitled to live as you choose and still have the protections estate planning provides. 

Why Not Having a Will Can Be Risky for Unmarried Couples

It is important to realize that [1] unmarried partners have no automatic legal right to inheritance and [2] that the possibility of death of yourself or your partner is not nonexistent even if you are both young and healthy. If one of you dies in an accident or as a result of a sudden medical event and has not made a will, the other partner may not be provided for. Instead, if you die without a will (intestate), the state of Massachusetts will determine who will inherit your property. 

Intestate legislation will have your estate go to your children, your parents, and then your siblings, in that order. If you have no close family, your assets will go to any living blood relative. In other words, if you have no will, all your worldly goods may end up with a distant cousin you’ve never met, rather than the person you love most in the world.

Other Estate Planning Steps You Should Take Besides Making a Will

Just drafting a will is not sufficient. Here are some further steps our estate planning attorneys can help you take to make sure each of you provides for the other in case of a crisis or tragic occurrence:

  • Protect your home by establishing joint ownership. If only one of you listed on the deed, the other partner may not inherit the property. If we help you establish joint tenancy, however, the home will immediately transfer to the other partner if one of you dies. Not only that, but the property will avoid probate.
  • Create powers of attorney for one another. If either of you suddenly becomes incapacitated, this will enable the healthy partner to pay bills, take care of other financial matters, and sign legal documents on your behalf.
  • Ensure that guardianship of your minor children goes to your partner rather than to a blood relative the child may not even know. One way to ensure this is for one partner to prove paternity or for one to adopt the other’s children.
  • Create a revocable trust so that you can name the person you want to manage your financial affairs while avoiding probate. This will enable a seamless transition of funds if it becomes necessary.
  • Make your partner your beneficiary for bank accounts, retirement funds, & life insurance policies so that money will automatically go to them if anything should happen to you.
  • Create a viable tax plan for your family. As an unmarried couple, you will not be able to avoid federal or state estate taxes if you have high-net-worth assets. If this is the case, it will save you or your partner a great deal of money to have us carefully craft a plan to minimize your tax liability.
  • Assign a health care proxy to make sure that your partner will be able to make critical health decisions if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes. 

Contact Our Sharp, Compassionate Estate Planning Attorneys Now

As you can see, estate planning for unmarried couples is even more complicated and more critical for unmarried couples than for those who have tied the knot. That’s why now is the right time to get in touch with our highly capable attorneys. Contact us to protect yourselves and to protect one another.