In today’s society, many couples choose to build their lives together without ever taking the step of becoming legally married. There are certain legal disadvantages to this scenario that could harm the surviving spouse if proper estate planning is not utilized. Even when an unmarried couple already has an estate plan, it is a good idea to have the plan reviewed by an experienced attorney. Updates to the plan may be necessary in order to reduce the risk of a legal challenge to the plan that was designed to benefit the surviving partner. In some cases, other surviving relatives of the decedent may take issue with the fact that the unmarried spouse is the beneficiary of the estate. Proper planning can help to reduce the risk of a lawsuit in these situations.
Life Partners and Unmarried Couples: Modify Your Estate Plan to Prevent Challenges
In situations where unmarried couples have other living relatives, extra caution must be taken to try and prevent a legal challenge of the estate plan. This is true even if the estate has minimal monetary value. These disputes most often arise over personal feelings rather than money. What modifications might an unmarried couple consider?
The following are four examples:
- Consider updating your plan to add a living trust if you do not already have one. A trust can provide greater privacy and protections against legal challenges than a plan that only involves a will.
- Courts may be reluctant to declare a trust invalid if it is challenged provided that the trust had a history of being used for managing the decedent’s property during their lifetime.
- If the creator of the trust becomes incapacitated, the trust can prevent someone from being appointed guardian that the creator of the trust would not have wanted to serve in that role. Instead, the trust can name the specific person that should fulfill this job.
- Under certain circumstances, a special power of attorney can be given to the trustee to allow them to move in any assets that were not placed inside the trust while the trust’s creator had the capacity to do so.
We hope that these tips designed to reduce lawsuits over a trust or estate were helpful. If so, we encourage you to share it with your friends and family on Facebook! We also hope if you want to know more about estate planning that you sign up for our free monthly seminar or contact us today to set up a consultation.