People who are living with a significant other but are not married are among a growing number of people in Florida and the rest of the country who have made this choice. Many heterosexual couples and same-sex couples alike may have found the loves of their lives but have made the conscious choice to not get legally married. While this is increasingly common and accepted today, it could leave people vulnerable in some key areas.
If one member of a cohabitating couple dies, there is likely to be confusion around who will inherit any assets. Married couples can often assume that everything will go to the spouse even if there is no will or trust in place. But unmarried couples cannot trust in that. Similarly, there may be tax implications for those who are not married. Benefits like those available through Social Security that may be able to be claimed by a spouse may not be able to be claimed by an unmarried partner.
Given these issues, proper estate planning is essential for anyone who is in a committed but unmarried relationship. The presence of children only makes this more important. At a minimum, people could consider creating a Power of Attorney and a health care directive so that the partner can make decisions on behalf of the other person if need be. A living trust may also be a helpful tool for other estate planning decisions.
Unmarried couples who want to be prepared for what life may bring their way may wish to consult with an attorney to learn the best estate planning options available to them.
Source: Pasadena Now, “Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples,” April 14, 2016