Having a talk about estate planning is not exactly high on most people’s lists of what they need to talk about with their partners, but that doesn’t mean it’s a topic you should ignore. If you are in a committed romantic relationship, talking about estate planning is absolutely essential. While you and your partner might have specific desires about what you might want to happen in the future, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the law will recognize your choices should you fail to craft a plan. Talking to your partner about these issues and then creating a plan that protects your wishes is a step you need to talk about as soon as possible.
Talk about estate planning with your partner because you are not married.
If you are in a committed relationship but are not married you are at a distinct disadvantage when compared with your married peers. Married couples are automatically given a number of estate planning rights that non-married couples do not automatically receive.
For example, if you are married, you and your spouse both have the automatic rights to receive an inheritance from one another upon the other’s death. Similarly, if one of you should become incapacitated, the remaining spouse will have the ability to make decisions on the incapacitated person’s behalf. Neither of these are true if you are living in a committed romantic relationship outside of marriage. While you can choose to give one another the same types of protections, you have to have an estate plan that recognizes your choices.
Talk about estate planning with your partner because you have children.
If you are in a committed romantic relationship and have one or more children, either from your relationship or from other relationships, estate planning is absolutely essential. Who do you want to care for your children in the event either or both of you become incapacitated? If your children have other parents, are those parents in the position to make parental decisions, or will you have to choose someone else? If you have specific wishes about who should become the guardian of your child in the event of incapacitation, have you taken steps to protect that choice? Have you made decisions about what kind of inheritances to leave your children? Do you want to leave an inheritance to your partner’s child or children?
If you are living in a committed relationship but have not taken the time to answer these questions, talking about them with your partner as soon as possible is essential. Once you have talked about the issues and major choices, you will both then want to talk to an estate planning attorney and discuss the best way to protect your decisions.
Sign up to attend one of our free seminars to learn more about your estate planning options. We encourage your loved one to attend with you.