In today’s world, more and more couples choose to become life partners in lieu of traditional marriage. Although unmarried couples lack some of the legal rights enjoyed by married couples, there are plenty of estate planning vehicles you can use to make up for that. Consider these estate planning tips to better manage your finances, protect your loved ones, and prepare for the future.
1) Remember: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Because there is no common law marriage in Michigan, you are not automatically entitled to inherit property from one another. If one of you should pass away without an estate plan, the state’s intestacy laws would pass on your property to your children, your parents, or your closest living relative. A will allows you to control exactly where your money goes. It also lets you name a guardian for your minor children, let your partner live in your home, and provide funds for the home’s upkeep.
2) Make medical provisions to control your care.
If you should become sick or injured, your partner may not be allowed visitation by the hospital or medical provider, and they may not be entitled to updates on your condition—all because they aren’t considered “family.” To get around this, you can give your partner medical power of attorney, which will name them as a “healthcare agent.” This will give them the authorization to make healthcare decisions on your behalf and discuss your treatment with healthcare providers. You can also communicate your preferences through a healthcare directive or living will, in case you’re ever incapacitated.
3) Cover your assets with titling.
You may be used to treating property purchases casually with your partner, but it’s important to make sure that jointly-owned properties are titled in both of your names. If you don’t title your assets correctly, you risk losing property if one of you passes away. It can also problematic if you ever get into a legal dispute about assets after a breakup.
4) Name beneficiaries for more peace of mind.
As with your will, you must pay close attention to the beneficiaries you designate on your trusts, life insurance policies, retirement plans, and similar accounts. Married and unmarried couples alike should always update their beneficiaries to reflect major changes. That way if one of you should pass away, if you eventually decide to marry, or if you split up, your loved ones will always be financially protected.
5) Put your expectations in writing.
Many unmarried couples can benefit from a cohabitation agreement, a formal contract that works somewhat like a prenup. It can outline how you will divide property in the event of a breakup, how you will manage expenses like housing and groceries, and how you will pay your debts. The agreement can even discuss financial support and debt planning in case the relationship ends.
Would you like to learn more about how estate planning can help you save money for the future, safeguard your wishes, and take care of your loved ones? Contact the dedicated family attorneys at Michigan Gun Law. We would be happy to help you explore options like cohabitation agreements, legal adoptions, trusts, powers of attorney, and many more.