Financial and Legal Planning for Unmarried Couples: Should You Legally Marry or Not?
With the Supreme Court making a groundbreaking decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S.A., many modern couples of all genders and sexual orientation are considering whether marriage is right for them and their partners. If you are on the fence, here are some crucial details to consider:
Married or not, you need financial and legal protections in place to ensure that you and your loved ones are taken care of if you die or are incapacitated. For married couples, the law provides some (but not all) of these protections by default that unmarried couples miss out on. For example, if your partner is hospitalized you don’t automatically get access to them because you are not married, or if your partner needs a family member to make important legal or financial decisions for them while they are incapacitated, you cannot step forward because without marriage, you are not considered family. As you can see, if you choose not to get married, you and your partner will need to take legal steps in order to protect and provide for each other.
As an unmarried partner, you would have no legal right to anything belonging to your significant other should they die without a will. However, if a married partner dies without a will in place, there are default legal provisions that provide for the surviving spouse, but these legal provisions are generally not sufficient or do not match what the late spouse would want. That’s why even though there are safeties for your spouse, all couples, married or not, should at least have a will in place to ensure that their full wishes are followed upon their death.
New scenario: you and your partner live together, but only your partner is on the lease or named as the owner of the home you live in. Then, your partner becomes incapacitated or dies. Now, even as you try to overcome your grief or handle their medical expenses, you have to worry about being kicked out of your home. Estate planning can fix this for unmarried couples.
Furthermore, when you are considering marriage, remember that legal spouses can file taxes jointly, whereas unmarried couples cannot. There can be some serious tax savings and benefits that could make marriage quite attractive. On the other hand, getting married could negatively impact your tax situation.
Here’s the bottom line: if you are committed to your partner and want your partner to make legal and financial decisions for you and to have access to some or all of your assets in the event of your incapacity or death, whether you get married or not, you need legal and financial planning that ensures your partner has easy access to everything you choose. In either case, contact us as you decide what to do so we can support you to plan well. That’s what we do for you and your family.
If you’re ready to ensure your loved ones have the legal benefits and financial protections they deserve, consider sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you with your legal planning needs. Our Family Wealth Planning Session guides you to protect and preserve what matters most.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Photo by Olya Kobruseva: https://www.pexels.com/photo/women-in-white-gown-standing-at-the-door-4661261/