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Unmarried couples should also consider estate planning

Many couples in Texas and throughout the country are now deciding to live together rather than tie the knot. While many cite financial reasons for cohabitation, others simply have been married before and don't want to do it again. Most couples who live together don't see the need for estate planning, particularly if they don't have children. Industry leaders believe there are benefits for developing estate plans, regardless of marital status.

First, it would be wise for anyone to have a health care power of attorney. Someone would be designated to make medical decisions when a partner is unable do so. If such a document does not exist, unmarried partners are rarely allowed to make medical decisions for each other. A health care power of attorney can hopefully help couples avoid going to court with a costly guardianship case.

Estate planning would be crucial when unmarried couples share the same home. The plan could be written to ensure that the home would pass to the surviving partner should the other pass away. In some states, if this was not expressly designated in formal documents, the unmarried partner would not receive the property. The home would go instead to relatives of the deceased in these situations.

Considerations should also be made if there are children from previous relationships. Also, a couple may need to address long-term care issues or governmental benefits such as Medicaid or Veteran's Aid. A revocable living trust might be helpful in making sure provisions are in place to care for a partner after the other's death.

Whether a couple is married or has decided to cohabitate, it is evident that estate planning is a necessary process for most Texas residents. An experience estate planning attorney can discuss the options and develop a plan to meet specific needs. A knowledgeable lawyer will work with clients to protect their assets and loved ones.

Source: wilmingtonbiz.com, "The Importance Of Estate Planning For Unmarried Couples", Kara Gansmann, Aug. 1, 2017

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