The Unique Estate Planning Concerns of Non-Married Life Partners
Estate planning always has its unique nuances and considerations. These nuances and considerations can be more intricate when it comes to non-married life partners.
The divorce rate is the lowest it’s been in a decade. The number of people getting married is also at record lows. But what may be contributing to both of those statistics is a number that’s up and continuing to climb: the number of unmarried life partnerships.
This population group faces unique estate planning challenges. Unmarried partners do not have the same legal privileges as married couples. In fact, if one of the partners should become incapacitated, ill or die, without properly executed estate plan documents, the surviving partner will not be entitled to anything. They may not even be able to visit their partner in the hospital.
Far more important than the dispersal of assets and other belongings (though this is also important) is having a health care proxy, advance medical directive or living will and a financial power of attorney. Without these two important documents, if you or your partner becomes unable to make medical decisions or take care of financial matters, there might not be anyone to do so.
If a couple is married without estate planning documents, the Laws of Intestacy ensures that the the surviving spouse will receive a minimum of ½ (if not all) of couples’ assets. Of course, in a blended family, things could be different. But surviving partners in unmarried couples do not get the same recognition as spouses or even as family members. All unmarried couples who are together for life really need to find an estate planning expert who understands their unique needs and knows how to properly execute the correct documents.
The growing population of unmarried partnerships calls for even greater urgency in selecting and designating a health care proxy and financial power of attorney. The hundreds of thousands of unexpected deaths due to COVID-19 left many unmarried life partners devastated because they did not have legal rights to make medical decision nor financial decisions. I know more and more people are not choosing to marry. But that doesn’t mean you should also side-step important legal decisions that will protect you and the one you love.
If you or a loved on are in a committed life partnership, I encourage you to reach out to our firm at 404-370-0696 to ensure that both life partners are protected during life and after passing.