Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples: Individual Challenges Abound

The challenges of planning for retirement, future security and a lasting legacy are many and complex. A full range of issues must be considered, from trust and estate planning and asset allocation and protection to elder care options and health care directives. These challenges are compounded for unmarried individuals who have the added goal of making sure that a loved one is taken care of in their absence.

Many legal protections exist for married couples that unmarried couples are not entitled to. This is due largely to tax policy and the advantages that individual state distribution laws provide for spouses of individuals who die without a will. This issue is much larger than the matter of same-sex couples in states such as Arizona with no civil union provisions: U.S. Census Bureau statistics reveal that the population of opposite-sex unmarried couples who cohabit grew 13% from 2009 to 2010.

With that in mind, unmarried couples must make sure that real property, investments and other assets do not escape the notice of a comprehensive estate plan. Exacting scrutiny is also advisable with respect to estate tax implications, pension and insurance beneficiary designations, and specific significant items such as jewelry and artworks.

An Estate Planning Attorney Can Provide the Diligent Service You Need

Unmarried couples must carefully consider all aspects of their future wishes, because undesignated assets will not automatically land in their partner’s possession in the absence of specific directions via a will or trust. The same can be said for the importance of making clear life care planning choices via a health care directive, financial power of attorney and other strategies to designate who will make crucial decisions in the event of incapacitation.

MH, An Arizona and New Mexico estate planning lawyer can help you set the stage for a secure future by facilitating a comprehensive discussion about your diverse assets and long-term goals. An attorney who stays up to date on changes to tax law and other factors relevant to estate planning is an ongoing ally to help you make clear and informed choices to enhance your success.