Orange County California

Trust Attorneys


In today’s modern society, many couples that build their lives together opt to never officially get married. When they plan their estate plans, they take extra care to make sure that their unmarried domestic partner is the recipient of their property and the named fiduciary in charge of carrying out the administration of their estate. Their estate plans can accomplish many of the same goals that the estate plans of a married couple are able to accomplish. If there is a separation, however, it is extremely important for unmarried domestic partners to modify their estate plans.

Estate Planning Modifications for Unmarried Domestic Partners Following a Break Up

  1. California law does not automatically bequest to an ex-partner if the couple was not married. Therefore, unless you take the time to update your will, the provisions that you wrote which benefit them will continue to stand.
  2. Even if your estate plan is drafted to include provisions that state if the couple breaks up, the ex-partner does not receive assets—disputes may arise. The ex-partner could claim that no breakup occurred or that the couple had reunited. Regardless of the claim, the matter will end up before a probate court judge, which is something to be avoided if possible. A modification to your estate plan is a better choice.
  3. California and federal law also do not automatically disqualify an ex-souse from being the beneficiary of a bank account, retirement assets, investment, or insurance policy. As a result, if you do not take the time to update your plan—including changing your beneficiary designations—your ex-partner will receive these assets.
  4. If your estate plan includes a living trust, it can be revoked or amended without the need to obtain the consent of your ex-partner. This is not always the case for married couples. It is good news in the sense that an amendment to your trust can quickly resolve the issue of an ex-partner receiving any of your assets under your estate plan.

Regardless of the specific changes that you decide to make, it is crucial that you meet with an attorney to discuss an estate plan modification when you breakup with a partner who previously stood to inherit your assets. Did you find these tips helpful? If so, we encourage you to sign up for our free newsletter! We will send you all of the latest news and tips designed to create, implement, and modify your estate plan.

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