This June the Supreme Court handed a decisive victory to the LGBT community nationwide, legalizing marriage. One of the reasons this community was so persistent in their efforts is because the financial laws of the United States are heavily favored towards married couples.
The automatic right that married couples have to make decisions on their spouses behalf, does not exist for unmarried couples. Thus, all requests and desires must be clearly documented.
For those of you who have decided that, although you’ve found the love of your life, you’d prefer to remain unmarried for the foreseeable future, be sure your partner will always have a say in your health and financial life by invoking the following:
1) Will This is paramount in making sure that your wishes come about. If you own a home and your live-in partner’s name isn’t on the deed, without a will and estate plan he or she could be out on the street.
Many couples share a home that only one of them owns. They want their partner to be able to live there the rest of his or her life, but upon the survivor’s passing, wish for their children to inherit it. A will ensures that the children maintain ownership, but the surviving partner has the freedom and flexibility to live there as long as desired.
2) Very clear documentation stating what is to happen with common property in the event of the relationship’s demise. This should be written up by an attorney or via an online service like Legal Zoom or U.S. Legal Forms.
3) Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney U.S. law allows spouses to make health and end of life decisions on each other’s behalf. Without that marital right, a health care proxy must be created to afford your partner the same opportunities. These legal documents state who has authority to make health decisions on your behalf.
Estate planning note: Spouses automatically inherit the deceased’s wealth with no tax consequences. But if unmarried, a portion of your estate will be taxed when passed to your partner, children, or other parties. Talk to a financial advisor today if you are unmarried and have assets to leave behind at death.
In addition to the discussions you have with each other, also share your plans with friends and family who may be involved with your estate. They may or may not agree with your wishes, but they do need to understand.
And so it is.