UNMARRIED COUPLES MUST THINK ABOUT ESTATE PLANNING
Long-term relationships that involve two committed individuals who are not married are growing more common. In some cases, people have religious reasons to avoid marriage. Others just don’t want the hassle and feel like their relationship is just as secure as a marriage, no matter what you call it or what labels you put on it.
That may be true, but you have to remember that unmarried couples do not have all of the same legal rights as married couples. Whether you think of yourselves as a family or not, the law does not see you as anything more than two people who know one another. You’re not legally connected.
This can have massive consequences for things like estate planning. A spouse may naturally inherit assets in the event of an unexpected death, for example. As an unmarried partner, you may get nothing. The assets could go to a blood relative, like a parent or a child
Now, they may be very understanding. They may gift the assets to you. But is that really what you want to count on, especially if you’re not that close with your partner’s family? What if they decide to keep the assets and prevent you from having a voice in medical decisions? They can legally do it if there is no estate plan to explicitly give you legal rights. They have more standing than you, even after decades together.
This is just one of the challenges that unmarried couples face. Be sure you know where you stand and what legal steps you need to take moving forward.