Estate planning is a crucial process that everyone should undertake to ensure that their property and assets are distributed according to their wishes after they die. In particular estate planning for unmarried couples can be a bit more confusing. Committed unmarried couples often neglect to do this, or are unsure how to properly plan for their beloved now and at their passing. Chicago estate planning lawyer, Charles Provenza, with almost 4o years of experience and knowledge, is well versed in how to help his unmarried clients make a good comprehensive estate plan.
Estate planning for unmarried couples is just as important as it is for married ones, perhaps even more so, because there is a lack of legal rights and protections afforded to unmarried couples. In this article, Attorney Provenza shares some key considerations for unmarried couples when it comes to estate planning.
Create a Will
One simple but important aspect of estate planning for unmarried couples is preparing a will. A will helps ensure that an individual’s property and assets are distributed to their intended beneficiaries in the event of their passing including your significant other. Making a will is even more vital for unmarried couples as, unlike married couples, they cannot rely on the laws of intestacy, which dictate how a deceased individual’s property is distributed if they die without a valid will.
For shared property and assets, your partner’s ability to inherit or retain these assets will depend on how ownership of the property is structured. For instance, if both of your names are listed on a car title or the deed to a house, it is possible that your partner would retain ownership of these items after your death. However, this isn’t a guarantee.
For items that you want your unmarried partner to inherit, it is critical that these items are outlined specifically in your will. Otherwise, other family members might make a claim to these items or take them. Having your wishes clearly outlined in a will is an important step in protecting your interests and can make the difficult time after your passing easier on your partner.
Establish a Durable Power of Attorney
Another crucial aspect of estate planning for unmarried couples is establishing a durable power of attorney. This document gives an individual’s chosen person the authority to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf in case they become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. Having such a power of attorney in place can bring peace of mind to both partners, especially in case of sudden illness or accidents that may leave one partner unable to make crucial medical or financial decisions.
In a marriage, your spouse would normally have this right. However, if you are not married, your partner will not have the ability to advocate for you or make any medical or financial decisions. In some cases, they may not be able to discuss your condition with doctors or visit you in the hospital if you are not able to grant them access when incapacitated.
Set Up a Trust
Unmarried couples may also benefit from establishing a living trust or a joint revocable trust. First, it safeguards your assets and property from legal disputes in case of death or incapacity. It creates provisions for the distribution of assets, which eliminates the need for probate and allows the beneficiaries to receive their inheritance quickly.
Plus, it hides some estate information from ending up as public records. Probate records are usually public, but a living trust is entirely private. This means that your financial affairs, assets, and beneficiaries are not documented or disclosed to the public.
Contact a Chicago Estate Planning Attorney Today
Estate planning for unmarried couples is not only essential, but it is also an opportunity to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly. With the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney in Chicago, Illinois, unmarried couples can ensure that their property and assets are distributed to their intended beneficiaries whilst also protecting their interests and peace of mind. Contact James C. Provenza & Associates, P.C. at (847) 729-3939 or by filling out our online form.