Not every couple chooses to marry, but unmarried couples face specific risks that married couples do not. If you’re part of an unmarried couple, carefully consider your rights and, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, implement an estate plan. In New Jersey, unmarried couples risk losing their shared assets if one partner dies. Additionally, unmarried couples cannot make important medical decisions for one another if the need arises. By creating an estate plan, you can bypass these issues and protect your rights together.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Talk to your partner about your healthcare wishes as they pertain to important medical decisions that could arise in the future, and implement a health care power of attorney (an experienced estate planning lawyer can guide you through the process) that names each of you as the other partner’s health care power of attorney. This power of attorney will allow each of you to make important medical decisions for one another.
The Home You Live In
Carefully consider your living arrangements. If you’re an unmarried couple who lives in a home that is in only one of your names, one of you could lose your home (if the partner whose name the house is in dies without an estate plan). Another option is to have both of your names put on the title. Without an estate plan, other assets (even those that you shared) will be distributed to the family members of whomever owns the assets on paper – rather than going to that person’s life partner. Careful estate planning allows you the peace of mind of knowing that if anything happens to either one of you, the other partner will be provided for.
Financial Power of Attorney
You may also want to consider a financial power of attorney for each of you, which will allow either of you to manage the other partner’s financial affairs if he or she becomes incapacitated through injury or illness.
Share Your Decisions
Once you and your partner have formalized your estate plan, share your decisions with your family and friends. This can help things go more smoothly if your estate plan is implemented in the future. Legal challenges to estate plans are not unheard of.
If You Have Estate Planning Questions, Call 201-498-9768 Today for More Information
Estate planning for unmarried couples can be complicated. Don’t leave your financial and healthcare decisions to chance; consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer. At John L. Schettino law, we’ll provide you with a free phone consultation and will work with you to ensure that your wishes as a couple are appropriately reflected in your estate plan. Contact or call me at 201-498-9768 for a free consultation.