Shields & Boris

Unmarried couples and estate planning issues

With more and more U.S. couple delaying or foregoing marriage while continuing to build lives together, estate planning for unwed couples is becoming a hot issue.

Preparing an estate plan for an unwed couple can be more challenging than a plan for a married couple, because additional documents are typically needed to cover all necessary scenarios that would ordinarily be covered when a couple is legally married.

These days many couples chose to remain unmarried for a variety of religious, social or familial reasons.  It can be easier for some – especially those on their second or subsequent marriage – to avoid a formal walk down the proverbial aisle.

Some people are choosing to remain unwed for financial reasons.  For example, a woman collecting Social Security benefits based on her deceased husband’s earnings may not want to get remarried and risk her income.  Or, if a couple is relying in Medicaid, they may chose to remain unmarried so that the assets of one spouse don’t affect the Medicaid eligibility of another spouse.

Unfortunately for unmarried couples, federal and state laws definitely favor married couples.  For this reason, it is especially important that unwed couples carefully prepare for the future and work with an experienced estate planning attorney.