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The Importance Of Estate Planning For Unmarried Couples

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Many couples never marry. They might even be together for years or decades but have never gotten around to saying “I do” or don’t feel that marriage is that important to begin with.

However, as we age, we soon find out that marriage carries many important legal benefits. If you choose not to marry, you need to carefully create an estate plan that protects your rights.

Protect Your Right to Make Medical Decisions for a Partner

Imagine the following scenario: your partner comes down with dementia and is suddenly unable to care for himself. You want to put him in a nursing home and make sure he is properly looked after.

Unfortunately, if you are not married, then you are not legally entitled to make these decisions. You also cannot make decisions in a crisis, such as an accident that renders your partner incapacitated. However, if you create an estate plan, you can create legal documents that will give you important rights.

The most important document is a healthcare power of attorney. In this document, you name an agent who can make decisions for you when you can no longer make healthcare decisions yourself. Your partner can name you as their agent, and you can name your partner as yours.

Without this document, you might find that distant relatives are making vital medical decisions for you, and they probably do not know your wishes.

Protect Your Ability to Inherit Assets

Florida law presumes that close blood relatives should inherit an unmarried person’s estate, such as your parents, siblings, children, or even cousins. This means your family home might go to a distant relative and not your partner. If you are not married, you need to create legal documents to guarantee that your partner inherits from you.

A foundational document of any estate plan is a will. You can use a will to identify who you want to inherit your property and assets. You are free to leave as much (or as little) to your partner as you want. You can also update it in the future if you split from your partner.

As a note: remember that you designate a beneficiary for life insurance policies, payable on death accounts, and retirement accounts on the policy itself, not through a will.

Decide Who Will Serve as Guardian to Your Children

In a will, you can designate a guardian for your minor children if you pass away. If your partner is the legal parent, then they will get guardianship. However, if your partner is not the legal parent, then you need to use a will to designate them as the guardian. If you don’t, a protracted court battle could result, ending up with your partner losing custody of your children.

Create an Estate Plan the Right Way. Contact Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group

Unmarried couples have unique needs, and they need a lawyer who understands them. Our estate planning attorneys at The Villages have been helping unmarried couples create estate plans for years. Contact us today at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group to schedule your free consultation.

Resource:

flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2017/Chapter732/All

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