There are many reasons why committed couples choose not to legally marry, but by not doing so, they may be leaving their spouse without the inheritance they intend to leave. This is especially true in North Carolina since North Carolina does not recognize common law marriage. Therefore, it’s important for these couples to think about their estate planning.
Here are some situations that unmarried couples should think about when it comes to estate planning:
- Health concerns and end of life care: If a person doesn’t have a legally binding document letting people know their health care wishes if they become unable to make choices for themselves, the choices will usually fall to a next of kin and most likely not their partner. Having the legal document with the person’s wishes and who they want to carry out the requests will ensure the person gets the healthcare they want.
- Estate concerns: The physical estate is of concern as well. Couples may wish to leave their estate to their partner upon death, but without a legal document, the estate will go to the next of kin. Instead of hoping the family does the right thing, make sure to have an updated will stating exactly what you want to happen to the estate. Not doing this could leave a partner without a home.
- Financial concerns: Just as most people don’t want to leave their partners without a home, they also don’t want to leave them penniless, or unable to support themselves. Through a will or trust, couples can make sure their assets are protected regardless of a marriage certificate.
An estate plan for unmarried couples ensures that they are each taken care of as they wish. There’s no reason to let the state decide who a person’s next of kin is and leave a person’s partner out of the process. To get started on an estate plan, contact Thornton Law Firm.