Estate planners are always looking towards trends to help clients to make the right decisions about their estates, and a growing trend in the United States is co-habitation without marriage. There are millions of people who want to be together and have a family, but they either do not believe in or need the institution of marriage.
While this progressive thinking is catching on, the estate planning laws in place are not set up to accommodate this shift in lifestyles. Since it is impossible to tell when the laws will catch up with the changes in society, it is always best to know how to protect your family through estate planning when you have no intentions on getting married.
A will is a good idea and we will discuss the benefits of wills in these situations, but nothing beats the clean organization of a trust. With a trust, you can accumulate property in any way you want, and you can designate beneficiaries in any fashion that you choose.
Common law spouses are usually not considered legally binding relationships by probate courts, but no probate court is going to go against the wishes of a trust. In reality, almost every state does not require a trust to go through probate, which makes a trust an even better idea for families formed without marriage.
Trusts are excellent ways to make sure your possessions are handled properly when you pass away, but a will can also help clear up any confusion that may remain. A will can be especially helpful when it comes to designation child care for your children, and making sure that any of your charitable wishes are seen through after you pass away.
As you fill out important paperwork pertaining to retirement accounts, life insurance, and bank accounts, it is helpful to make sure that you completely fill in the beneficiary sections. You can name anyone you want as a beneficiary on any of your accounts, but your significant other could lose access to those accounts in probate if you pass away without making them a beneficiary first. Be comprehensive with your beneficiary designations to protect your family after you have passed away.
If you should become disabled or unexpectedly unable to speak for yourself, your significant other could be passed by as your spokesperson. As part of your estate planning, you need to set up a power of attorney and a health care surrogate to make sure that your significant other gets to make those decision for you in the event of a medical crisis.
Your estate planner will introduce you to other documents you will need to sign to make sure that your significant other is treated as a legally wedded spouse if you are ever unable to speak for yourself. These documents are critical if you have no intention on getting legally married.
The decision to live as a couple without the legal assignment of marriage is becoming much more popular around the country. But without the legal designation of marriage, your significant other could be shut out of almost everything to do with your estate and important decisions regarding your health. The right estate planning program can help to solve those problems and allow you and your significant other to sleep better at night.