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Chapter 4. Estate Planning > Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

For a myriad of reasons, many couples live together without marrying. For these people, be they gay or straight, estate planning is of a heightened importance because the law will not generally provide for the surviving partner when one of them dies.

A living-together agreement, similar to a prenuptial agreement, is a good way to provide a measure of protection for couples in the event of the death of one of them or their separation. But such an agreement is most certainly not enough. A properly prepared will is even more important for unmarried people living together; without a will, assets would, through the laws of intestacy, automatically pass to relatives the deceased partner most likely would not have intended to receive those assets. Health Care Proxies and Durable Powers of Attorney also become of paramount importance. Some retirement plans have benefits that will automatically pass to a spouse, but do not automatically provide for payment of benefits to a domestic partner. Unmarried couples should make certain that the beneficiary designations on all of their retirement plans and life insurance policies specify those to whom they wish to have these benefits pass in the event of death.


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