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Unmarried & Living with Your Partner? You Still Need an Estate Plan

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Many people think estate planning is only for married couples. This is one of the most common estate planning misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is particularly important for unmarried couples.

If you are in a relationship with a partner and you two do not feel the need to get married, you still need proper estate planning. One reason to consider estate planning is because an estate plan will give you and your partner the authority to appoint each other to make important healthcare decisions for the other partner in case they become mentally or physically incapacitated.

The document that can be used to grant a partner the authority to make healthcare decisions on the other partner’s behalf is known as healthcare power of attorney.

Without this document in place, an unmarried partner won’t be allowed to take healthcare decisions for the incapacitated partner and would need to go through costly guardianship proceedings in order to obtain necessary permissions.

If an unmarried couple resides in a house that was purchased jointly and the partner in whose name the title of the home is passes away, the property would be transferred to the dead partner’s family instead of the surviving partner in the absence of a will.

Having a will in place will ensure that the title of the property held jointly is passed on to the surviving partner or they are allowed to continue residing in the property.

If you have kids from a previous relationship or marriage, create a revocable living trust to ensure your partner and your kids will be taken care of after you have moved on. A trust could be used to ensure that the surviving partner is allowed to reside in a jointly held property and use jointly held assets such as furnishings and household goods.

Our legal system affords several rights to married couples such as the right to decline to testify against a spouse, homestead rights, right to jointly file bankruptcy and tax, and right to collect social security benefits on the other spouse’s work record.

Unmarried couples do not have these rights. An estate plan addresses this problem. If you want to provide for your partner after you pass away, make sure your assets avoid probate. Enable your partner to take care of you in case you become incapacitated and are unable to make important healthcare decisions. Hire an estate planning attorney in Santa Rosa to create an effective estate plan.

Whether you want to safeguard your estate and assets or craft a complex legal document, Johnston Thomas Law can help. Our attorneys use their expertise and legal knowledge to protect the rights of their clients. To discuss your case with one of our lawyers, call (707) 545-6542.

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