When it comes to estate planning, couples who live together but are not married (“cohabiting couples”) face some unique planning challenges.
Living Together, Torn Apart Without an Estate Plan.
Unlike married couples, cohabiting partners do not have the legal right to make the necessary health and financial decisions for each other in the event one of them becomes incapacitated. That means that if you do not have a valid estate plan, and your partner becomes too ill or injured (think, lying there in a coma) to make his/her own decisions, you will not have the legal right to pay his/her bills or make any decisions about his/her medical care — including feeding tubes and life support. Should your partner die, (absent an estate plan) the state will decide how his/her property is to be distributed —and it will not go to you.
Cohabiting couples also do not qualify for the unlimited marital deduction for estate and gift taxes for transfers of property between themselves. You can minimize these adverse legal effects by seeking advice of experienced trusts and estates counsel.
It is important that cohabiting couples get an estate plan in place, because without one, neither partner is protected in the event of death or incapacity. Do not just assume that your partner “will be taken care of.” The reality is that in the event of the death of one cohabiting partner, the other just may lose everything — home, partner, property, and the life the two of you built over the years.
Estate Planning is Necessary and Affordable.
At Esser, Bradley and Khalsa, our estate planning attorneys will work with you during a FREE consultation to discuss your specific needs. We are experienced trusts and estates counsel with offices in beautiful Sedona, but we serve all of Arizona. Call us at 928-282-1483, connect with us on Facebook today to set up your free appointment.