Younger Texas couples aren’t rushing to get married anytime soon, and even older couples might have their reasons for holding off on saying “I do.” This doesn’t stop couples from staying together for entire lifetimes, though, nor should it.
Marriage offers some automatic protections for couples spending their entire lives together. For one, it ensures that a person’s estate will be transferred directly to their surviving spouse – even without an estate plan.
How does estate transfer work for unmarried couples?
Generally, if a person dies with no estate plan, their belongings and accounts are automatically transferred to the next of kin. For many people, this is their spouse.
For unmarried people, it would be their closest blood relative. This is regardless of how long they’ve been dating their romantic partner.
Other risks for unmarried couples
There are a lot of benefits granted to married couples when it comes to estate planning. Estate taxes are usually owed upon the death of the second partner in a marriage – but if you’re unmarried, estate taxes are due right away.
Then there are things like healthcare and financial decisions. A spouse will automatically have some say in health and finance decisions should the worst happen, but a partner wouldn’t.
Protecting your partner with estate planning
Several estate planning documents can grant your partner some protection. You will want to fill out a form that gives your partner power of attorney should something happen to you, and an advanced health care directive that states your partner can make decisions on your behalf.
You will also want an airtight will, outlining what items you want your partner to inherit. You will also want to make sure they are listed as a beneficiary on all important accounts, and that their name is on any shared property (such as your home).
Estate planning is important regardless of your marital status. But it becomes even more important if you and the love of your life aren’t married.