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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Why do I need an estate plan if I am not married?

More couples today are putting off marriage in favor of living together.  According to the latest Census data, the number of couples living together out of wedlock has increased over 25 percent since 2000.  Many unmarried younger adults without children may believe that having an estate plan is not necessary.  However, not being married can actually lead to complex issues should one of the partners pass away or become gravely ill.  Unmarried partners can protect themselves by reviewing the estate planning tips below and contacting an estate planning lawyer to get started protecting their legal rights.

  1. Create a will:  If you are living with your significant other but are not married, you will need to take steps to ensure that your assets will pass to your partner in the event of your death.  Without a will in place expressly naming your significant other as your heir, he or she is unlikely to receive any portion of your estate.  State law provides that in the absence of a will, assets will pass to the next blood relative according to the laws of intestacy.  Protect your significant other and your legacy by making a will today.
  2. Name your beneficiary:  Several assets, like your life insurance policy and retirement accounts, will not pass through your will. Rather, these assets require that you designate a beneficiary to receive the proceeds if you die.  Unmarried couples will need to update their beneficiary designation to their significant other.  Be sure to change your beneficiary should your life circumstances alter.
  3. Designate a financial and health care power of attorney:  Unmarried partners are often completely unprotected if one of the partners becomes incapacitated.  In the event of incapacity, your nearest blood relative will typically be appointed to make decisions about your health and finances.  To ensure your significant other will be able to make vital decisions about your health and finances, you will need to draft a durable power of attorney and an advance care directive.  These documents are critical as without them, in extreme circumstances, significant others have been denied the right to see their loved one because they are not a blood relative.

Estate planning is important for people of all ages and in all walks of life.  Take the necessary steps today to protect your assets and your loved ones with a comprehensive estate plan.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.