Jun 12, 2017

Posted in Blog - "Altman Speaks"

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Estate planning is important for all individuals, regardless of their financial portfolio or their marital status. For unmarried couples, estate planning is critical due to a different set of circumstances.

Why unmarried couples need a will

All couples, married and unmarried, can benefit from a last will and testament. Why? Because without a last will and testament, which specifies how you would like your property to be distributed in the event of your death, state law will dictate what happens to your estate. In many states, this means your property will be given to the closest family members. If you are unmarried, this will not include your partner. The only way to specify how you want your property handled is to prepare a will.

Don’t lose the house

When unmarried couples live together, and one partner dies, the surviving partner can be kicked out of the house if it is not titled properly. Couples who have purchased a house together can put both names on the title to avoid this outcome. If property is owned in joint tenancy, it avoids probate — the court-approved process of distributing assets after death — and the property automatically passes to the surviving owner. There are tax considerations involved so it is best to discuss your situation with an estate planning specialist to determine the most appropriate approach.

Durable powers of attorney

Even though you and your partner may be committed to one another and might have been living together for years, your relationship does not automatically give you the right to make decisions for your partner if he or she should become incapacitated. Couples must designate each other through a power of attorney and a medical advance directive. These will enable couples to make legal, medical, and financial decisions on behalf of their partner if there is an accident or incapacitation. Without a medical advance directive, your partner may not be granted permission to see you if you should become injured in an accident.

Revocable living trusts

Unmarried couples can benefit from development of a revocable living trust, an effective estate planning tool that allows you to determine who will inherit your property in the event of your death. “Revocable” means the terms can be modified to reflect changes in your circumstances or wishes. “Living” refers to the fact that the trust is created during your lifetime. Revocable living trusts are commonly used to avoid probate.

Plan your future with our experienced Maryland estate planning attorneys

Life is busy and long term financial planning may be the last item on your list. However, it is essential for unmarried couples to develop an estate plan to provide for your future together. The estate planning specialists at Altman & Associates have been helping couples achieve their long-term financial goals for more than 40 years. We develop estate plans that meet your needs, address your concerns, and achieve your goals. Recognized as the premier estate planning firm in the Maryland-Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C. region, we have convenient office locations in both Rockville and Columbia. Let’s get started on planning for your financial future. Contact our office today at 301-468-3220 or online to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney.

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