Compassionate And Competent

Butte County Landscape

Securing your future as an unmarried couple

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2023 | PROBATE & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION - Estate Administration

For many reasons, a growing number of couples are choosing not to pursue marriage. However, despite this trend, existing laws and regulations continue to safeguard only the rights and interests of married spouses. Passing away without drafting an estate plan could leave your partner at a loss.

Without a proper estate plan, the law will prioritize a person’s closest relatives over an unmarried partner in case of death or incapacity. This means that the state will decide who inherits your assets and makes health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. By taking steps to secure your future, you can have greater control over things that matter to you.

Here are some estate planning tools you might consider:

Living will

A living will, or an advance health care directive, enables you to name a person you trust as your health care proxy. This person would have the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated due to a severe illness or injury. You can include written instructions to ensure your preferences are followed.

Naming your partner as your health care proxy could give you peace of mind, knowing they will advocate for and respect your health care wishes if something happens to you.

Last will and testament

Without an estate plan or joint ownership titles, the law sees you and your partner as separate entities. If you die, your partner will have no legal claim to your assets. A last will and testament would allow you to name your partner as a beneficiary and specify what assets you plan to leave with them.

However, it’s essential to have a clear and well-drafted last will. Otherwise, your family and other people who have an interest in your estate could contest your partner and their inheritance.

Joint ownership over assets

Like many couples, it’s likely that you and your partner have or will acquire assets such as a car, house, or other real estate. If you want specific properties to remain with your partner after your death, you can name your partner as a joint tenant with survivorship rights on the titles. After you pass on, this designation will automatically transfer those assets to your partner.

If you have no plans for marriage, you and your partner can create a comprehensive estate plan to help protect each other in the future.