Estate Planning for Elderly Unmarried Couples
Increasingly, couples are choosing to live together without getting married. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there were 18 million unmarried adults cohabitating in 2016, as compared to 14 million in 2007 – a 29 percent increase. While approximately half of cohabiters are under age 35, the number of cohabitating unmarried individuals age 50 and older has risen 75 percent since 2007.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Generally, estate planning is beneficial for those who wish to decide who will take care of them in the event of their incapacitation and how their assets will be distributed upon their death. Unmarried partners without an estate plan may suffer unintended consequences if one partner dies or becomes incapacitated. They may not be able to make health and financial decisions on behalf of their partner or inherit the property in which they cohabitated.
Unmarried couples are also not eligible for many of the benefits that married couples enjoy such as joint tax filing, Social Security income, and health benefits. However, elderly unmarried couples can ensure that their wishes are carried out – and that their partners are protected – by establishing an estate plan.
What Should Elderly Unmarried Couples Include in Their Estate Plan?
Without certain legal documents in place, unmarried partners cannot make medical decisions on each other’s behalf, enforce property rights, or inherit each other’s health and retirement benefits. Therefore, if you are unmarried and in a serious relationship, it is generally in your best interest to have an estate plan that includes:
- A will – The best way to ensure that your significant other receives your assets upon your death is to draw up a will and name your partner as your beneficiary. You may also wish to list your partner as a pay-on-death beneficiary for insurance policies, retirement plans, and bank accounts.
- Titled property – To avoid going through probate, make sure your property is titled properly. Naming your partner as a joint tenant will allow your interest to pass to your partner upon your death.
- Durable power of attorney – Granting your partner durable power of attorney will allow him or her to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them for yourself. You may also name your partner as your health care proxy in an Advance Directive for Health Care, which will allow him or her to make end-of-life decisions for you.
- “Living together” agreement – It is important for unmarried couples to plan for the event of a break-up. Creating a living together agreement can help couples avoid issues regarding each person’s rights and responsibilities upon separation.
Brooklyn Elder Law Lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Help Elderly Unmarried Couples Create Estate Plans
Creating an estate plan helps to ensure that your assets are protected and that you and your partner are legally able to make important decisions for each other in the future. Contact a Brooklyn elder law lawyer at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP for assistance with your estate planning. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys can help you create a personalized estate plan that best suits your needs. Contact us online or call us at 212-495-8133. We represent clients throughout New York, including those in Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York from our offices located in Brooklyn, New York and Lakewood, New Jersey.