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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Estate Planning For Couples Who Aren’t Married

Sinatra crooned that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, but Old Blue Eyes might be singing a different tune if he were alive today. Many couples do indeed have one without the other, particularly if their current love is not their first. Couples in such a relationship may not want to formalize their relationship in a public ceremony, but they should consider talking with an estate planning attorney to make sure their end of life wishes are not ignored because they chose not to tie the knot.

Every state has laws governing what happens when someone dies without an estate plan. In both North Carolina and South Carolina, the law says that next of kin (typically children, parents, or siblings) inherit everything. These are also the people that are tasked with making medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. Even if you have been in a committed relationship for many years, your partner will have no legal right to your property, and may be barred from your death bed if your family members don’t want him or her by your side.  

The only way to make sure your partner is able to keep living in your house, accessing your bank account, and otherwise carrying on the life that you have built together, is to make sure you have a solid estate plan in place. If you have been married before, or have children from a previous relationship, putting together an estate plan becomes even more important because the default estate distribution laws will favor the people you have a legal connection to.

In our practice we have even seen situations where ex-spouses have inherited assets instead of current partners because old estate plans were not updated. It is hard to believe that anyone would favor their ex over their current partner, but that is what the legal documents said, so that is what had to be done.

The only way to make sure the people you love are the people making end of life heath decisions for you, and inheriting your estate, is to put a formal estate plan into place. There is no reason not to make such a plan because it can be easily done, and it can be voided if your relationship changes.


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Monk Law Firm, PLLC assists clients throughout Charlotte, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and the surrounding areas.



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1701 First Baxter Crossing, Suite 101, Fort Mill, SC 29708
| Phone: 803-594-4453
13315 Carowinds Blvd., Suite Q, Charlotte, NC 28273
| Phone: 704-369-9977

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