Marriage isn’t what it used to be. Marriage rates have fallen and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of U.S. adults in cohabitating, but not married, relationships has risen 29% since 2007. The law favors marriage heavily when it comes to managing assets, so it is essential that unmarried couples organize their assets in case of sudden incapacitation or death. Below are some tips to consider when thinking about estate planning for unmarried couples.
Appointing your partner Attorney-in-Fact ensures he/she will be able to make financial or medical decisions for you in the event that you find yourself incapacitated. If you would like your partner to be able to make end-of-life decisions for you, name him/her your health care proxy in an Advance Directive for Health Care.
Retitle Real Estate Assets
Real estate assets have very rigid laws when it comes to who controls them after death. If you want to avoid probate and give your partner rights to your property, you could transfer your property to a personal or joint living trust and establish your partner as a successor. There are other ways to accomplish this too. It’s best to utilize an experienced estate planning attorney to find out the best strategy for you.
Compose a Letter of Instruction
A letter of instruction is a document that lays out important information regarding how to manage your estate after your death. Some items to include are:
- A complete list of your assets and their locations
- All bank account information (account numbers, PIN, etc.)
- All digital account information (passwords, social media profile info, etc)
- Contact information of any creditors or insurance companies (particularly If you have a life insurance policy)
- Divorce or citizenship paperwork
- Social security number
- Tax return information
- What bills need to be paid?
- What subscriptions should you cancel?
Develop a Digital Estate Plan
So much of our lives live in the digital landscape. It is important to develop an estate plan that assures your email, social media accounts, websites and other digital assets are cared for in the manner that you like.
Digital assets are managed by law differently from state to state. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney or look at the Florida Digital Assets Act for a better understanding of how digital assets are managed in Florida.
Married couples should plan their estate, but unmarried couples have so much more to risk if they don’t. Regardless of your relationship status, estate planning is a great way to protect what you and your family has earned over generations. If you need estate planning advice, contact The Law Offices of Cipparone and Cipparone.
**This blog is for general informational purposes only. Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A. does not distribute legal advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A.