In this day and age, being a family is no longer traditionally defined by getting married. Many couples are choosing to wait or not get married at all, but are still making big decisions together that make most of their friends think of them as a married couple anyway.
But marriage is more than just a ring and a wedding; it binds couples legally. From a legal standpoint, there will be some hoops you and your significant other need to jump through if you’d like to remain unmarried and want to take the precautions of having a plan in place should one of you pass away. You may want to consider visiting an estate planning lawyer in Charlottesville VA to discuss all your options; they will be able to walk you through the process and make sure all your bases are covered.
Here are some legal documents that you and your SO will want to create, and thing you’ll want to set up to make sure your family is covered:
- Setting up a Revocable Living Trust and Wills
Depending on your real property and assets, you’ll want to either establish a Revocable Living Trust or make sure your wills are up to date. If you have more than $150,000 in assets or real property, you’ll want to go with a Revocable Living Trust which can allow you to avoid probate after you pass and choose who your assets should go to. If you have less, a will should be sufficient.
- Property Titles
If one of you own a house, and the other is living there but not on the title, you may want to properly title it into both your names, or name the other person through your Revocable Living Trust or Will. If you don’t do this, it’s possible for the family of the one who dies to kick the other out, as it will go to the parents or next of kin.
- Power of Attorney
If anything should happen to you and you become incapacitated, you’ll want to name the person you trust the most (perhaps your partner) to manage your finances or make healthcare decisions for you. Again, without these being specifically designated, family can take over and make those decisions.
Married or unmarried, estate planning is absolutely critical if you’re in a serious relationship. Things happen, but with your estate plan taken care of, you’ll have peace of mind that you and your partner’s futures are in good hands. Visit a local and experienced estate planning attorney to help you start the process today.