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Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Will and Trust Attorney Serving the Nashville Area

When a couple is committed to one another but not bound by the legal obligations of matrimony, there are special considerations that should be taken into account in the estate planning process. One important reason for this is that, when a person dies without a will in Tennessee, the law of intestate succession determines how the deceased person’s estate will be distributed. This distribution scheme can vary considerably from what the individual would have preferred to happen in many cases. Therefore, it is important for unmarried couples to speak with an experienced Nashville estate planning lawyer sooner rather than later, so that they can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that one’s wishes will be honored in the future. The Randy Ratliff Law Offices can help unmarried couples, same-sex couples, and those in other relationships as they go about the process of estate planning.

Under Tennessee’s law of intestate succession, the property of an unmarried person who dies without a valid will passes to his or her children in equal shares. If a child has passed away but left children of his or her own behind, his or her share usually goes to his or her children. If the deceased person did not have children, the estate passes to his or her parents, in equal shares. If the person’s parents are deceased, the next in line to inherit are the deceased’s siblings.

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

At a bare minimum, in most situations it wise for those who are unmarried to have a basic last will and testament directing the disposition of their assets and appointing an executor or executrix to administer his or her estate. There are a myriad of trusts that may also be attractive options, depending upon the wants and needs of a particular individual or couple. Trusts can be useful in qualifying for certain benefits, providing for a needy family member, making a charitable gift, and/or minimizing taxes. A seasoned trust attorney can explain the different options, as well advise an individual concerning other possible tools available with regard to estate planning for unmarried couples.

These options may include a power of attorney for financial matters, a durable power of attorney for healthcare, and/or a living will. Rather than have important healthcare decisions made by a family member, these documents can allow a person to designate his or her partner as healthcare proxy and/or allow him or her to make certain financial decisions. There are some additional considerations that may be applicable to some couples, such as the possibility of owning property jointly rather than individually and making appropriate beneficiary designations on assets such as bank accounts, retirement savings accounts, and life insurance policies. Of course, just as some married couples will ultimately divorce, some unmarried couple may break up at some point in the future. It is very important that an individual who finds themselves in this situation take prompt action to “undo” a no longer workable estate plan.

Lawyer for the Estate Planning Needs of Unmarried Couples in Nashville

Even if you have a will or other estate planning document in place, it is important to speak to an attorney periodically, as both the applicable laws and your specific situation may change over time. At the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, we provide legal counsel to those in Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Brentwood, Nashville, and Cool Springs, as well as elsewhere in Davidson and Williamson Counties, on a number of issues, including wills, trusts, probate, family law matters such as divorce or child custody, and elder law issues including conservatorships and social security and pension benefits. To learn more about our services, call us at 615-656-8282 or contact us online and schedule an appointment to come into our offices at your earliest convenience. We consider it a privilege to be of service to your family as you set your affairs in order and provide for the security of your loved ones.