Areas of Practice:

Elder Law
Estate Planning
Wills and Trusts
Estate Administration
Trust Administration
Guardianships
Conservatorships
Real Estate

ESTATE PLANNING FOR UNMARRIED COUPLE

            Many couples choose not to be legally married, even if they have been together a long time.  There are both personal and financial reasons for not getting married.  Some of my older clients choose not to marry because they do not want to hurt their children’s feelings.  Some worry about their children’s inheritance should they marry.  Same sex couples do not have the legal right to marry in the state of Colorado.

            It is very important for unmarried couples to execute estate planning documents to make their wishes clear concerning the rights and responsibilities of their partner.  A partner or significant other does not have the same legal rights as a spouse such as a statutory priority to serve as a personal representative or executor for their partner’s estate; a statutory right to inherit property from their partner; a priority to make disposition of the last remains of their partner and they have no priority to act as guardian or conservator for their partner should he or she become incapacitated or disabled.  There is also no requirement for notice of withholding of life support for a`non-married partner.

            It is important for an unmarried person to execute a will, a health care power of attorney, a general durable power of attorney and a living will to protect their unmarried partner. A will should name a personal representative or the person(s) to be in charge of the estate of the decedent and it should be clear about who will inherit property from the decedent.  Both a health care power of attorney and a general durable power of attorney should name someone to make decisions for  you should you become incapacitated or disabled.  These documents are private.  These documents may prevent unnecessary arguments between the families of unmarried couples and the surviving partner.

            It may be difficult for unmarried couples to discuss their living arrangements as well as their family dynamics but if you can find a good attorney, he or she will help you through this difficult process.  In the long run you will be more comfortable in your last days if you plan ahead.

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C.  This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney.

Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships.  She can be contacted at:  Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO  80030; 303-657-0360.

 


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