Estate Planning For Late In Life Partners With Children And No Intention Of Marrying
Providing for children in unmarried partnerships – particularly those late in life partners with no intention of marrying – is very important.
Also, making sure neither unmarried partner in a pair of late in life partners is left out if one should pass away, makes the establishing of legal documents such as those found in an estate plan essential in these types of partnerships.
In Georgia, the law gives married people certain protections with or without an estate plan, however you don’t want to leave the care of children to the state.
Designate A Legal Guardian
It’s extremely important to designate a legal guardian if you or your partner are not legal parents to the surviving child. If the child does have a surviving legal parent, that parent will be given full custody and responsibility of the child whether that would be your wish or not. If there is no surviving legal parent, the court will look to your will/estate plan for the appointment of a legal guardian for your children. So, if you and your partner have children but your partner is not a legal parent, you can specify that you want your partner to become the child’s legal guardian at your death. It is a good idea to list an alternate person in case the first person you name is not able to care for the child. Without a legal designation it will be up to a judge to decide who will be your child’s guardian.
While married couples need an estate plan, (even with the state protections to the surviving spouse), unmarried couples lack the basic protections thus making it essential to provide important protections for a surviving partner and/or any minor children by drafting an estate plan, as well as naming the people responsible for making important decisions about their health and property.
Revocable Living Trust
Everyone wants to avoid probate. One way this is achieved is through forming a Revocable Living Trust. Whether married or not, a Revocable Living Trust is a good way to avoid probate. The way this legal document works is that the trust is the owner of the assets. Because the trust owns your assets at the time of your death, the assets pass privately under the trust rather than through probate in the court. Trusts are complicated and must be set up properly, so you don’t want to attempt to do this on your own. It’s important to hire an experienced attorney familiar with the many legal nuances that will prevent your trust from being questioned by the courts. Trusts also require on-going management by a trustee. They are particularly helpful if you own real property in other states or if you want to keep the transfer of your property very private.
Joint Tenancy With The Right of Survivorship
Another way to make sure that neither partner is left out in the cold after the other dies is to own big-ticket items, such as houses, together in a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. When one of you dies, the survivor automatically owns 100% of the property – thus avoiding probate. To do this, you’ll need to put both of your names on the asset’s official title document—for example, the deed to your house.
Estate Planning Is Complicated Especially For Unmarried Partners With Children
Because estate planning can be complicated in general, if you and your partner are not married and there are minor children, it is important to make sure your estate plan is done right and to review it every couple of years. You’ll want to assign a Durable Power of Attorney for health care as well as finances. We work with unmarried couples to protect each partner and their children. If you are in an unmarried partnership and would like to discuss the formation of an estate plan, give our office a call at 404-370-0696.