West Palm Beach Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
If you aren’t married, but you have a life partner, estate planning becomes even more critical. Otherwise, neither of you will inherit anything from each other under the intestate succession laws in Florida, nor will you have any say in your partner’s end-of-life medical choices and care. Intestate succession laws determine where property goes when someone dies without a will. To learn more about what tools are right for your situation, speak with an experienced West Palm Beach estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
When you don’t have a will in place, the laws will distribute property to a spouse, children, or other closest relatives such as a parent. Unmarried partners do not factor into the law in this situation. The same applies to medical decisions. Only a spouse or someone who has the power of attorney can make decisions on your behalf.
Consider Joint Ownership
One option to protect each other is to have both names on a title wherever possible. If you own a home, you might have it titled jointly with the right of survivorship. However, there are some potential drawbacks to joint ownership in some circumstances. There could be tax issues for one. Your estate planning attorney can advise you on how to handle assets that could benefit from joint ownership.
Some assets don’t pass through probate because they have a designated beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy or retirement plan. Accounts that are payable on death (POD) or transferable on death (TOD) don’t pass through probate. Make sure your designations are up to date and that they reflect your current situation.
Durable Power of Attorney
Your attorney will discuss a power of attorney and what types of controls you can appoint to your life partner. These documents help people manage financial and legal affairs if you become incapacitated. Without one, your partner might be forced to petition the court to seek a conservator appointment. That takes time and money. A power of attorney can avoid all the extra headaches and financial costs.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is similar to a durable power of attorney, except that it deals with health care decisions. It will allow your partner, or whoever you appoint, to make decisions for you when you are injured or become ill and cannot make decisions for yourself. Your partner could be shut out by family members without one.
Revocable trusts are also something that many unmarried couples have. Some people choose a revocable trust over a will. A revocable trust will allow you to maintain maximum control and give your partner the most protection when you pass away. This type of trust will help you avoid the potential problems of probate.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Estate Planning Attorneys
Unmarried partners don’t have the same benefits and protections as married couples do. Without taking the proper steps, you could be shut out of assets and not allowed to make critical decisions for your partner’s medical care. Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can help.