When it comes to planning and safeguarding your unmarried partner, it’s important to explore various options. Factors such as the value of your assets, protection from your partner’s creditors, and your individual circumstances will influence which strategies are most suitable.
However, it’s crucial to seek guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that you navigate these choices correctly. While DIY approaches may seem cost-effective, they can potentially lead to more complications that could be costly to resolve.
Joint Ownership on an Account or Property
One of the simplest ways to grant your partner immediate access and control over an account or property is by making them a joint owner. With the right of survivorship, your partner will automatically become the sole owner in the event of your passing, without the need for probate court involvement. However, it’s important to consider the drawbacks of this option:
1. Granting sole ownership to your partner means they will have control over the account or property after your death, potentially making decisions that may differ from your intentions.
2. Joint ownership exposes your assets to your partner’s debts, as creditors could seize jointly owned property to settle outstanding judgments.
3. In the unfortunate event of a breakup, removing your partner’s name from accounts or property can be challenging, potentially leading to costly and emotional legal disputes if cooperation is lacking.
Retirement Account or Insurance Policy Beneficiary
These forms typically allow you to specify both a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary as a backup option. By naming your partner as a beneficiary, you can ensure they receive the funds without compromising your control over the account or policy during your lifetime.
However, If your partner faces legal action, the designated funds could potentially be accessible to satisfy any judgments against them. Additionally, when your partner passes away, they will have the authority to decide who will receive any remaining money.
Pay-on-Death or Transfer-on-Death beneficiary of an account has the same problems as above. On top of that, your partner will only have access to the money upon your death. If there will be a point that you are unable to make your own decisions, your partner will not be able to access the funds.
Last Will and Testament Beneficiary
Creating a Last Will and Testament grants you the ability to designate specific assets and property that you want your partner to inherit. This applies to items solely owned by you that do not automatically pass to a surviving joint owner or beneficiary. You can even outline how your partner will receive these assets, whether it be as a lump sum or through installments over time. In addition, a testament trust can be added to your will to safeguard the money and property that you leave to your partner.
However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that utilizing a will means your partner will need to navigate the probate process to receive the designated assets upon your passing. This process may involve court supervision until the final amount is distributed. It’s also important to note that a will solely operates upon your death and does not offer any instructions or benefits to your partner in the event of your incapacitation.
Revocable Livint Trust (RTL) Beneficiary
With a well planned RTL, the accounts and property held within the trust can serve as a lifeline for your partner even during your lifetime if you are unable to manage your affairs.
Within the trust agreement, you have the authority to designate who will manage the trust and benefit from its assets during your lifetime and after your passing. This allows you to provide financial support for your partner during any period of your incapacity, specify which accounts or property they will receive, and establish the timing and manner in which they will inherit these assets upon your death.
One significant advantage of an RLT is its ability to bypass the probate process. By placing your accounts and property under the trust’s ownership, you can maintain the privacy and confidentiality of your personal matters, shielding them from public scrutiny.
We are Here to Help
As you can see, there are several different ways to provide for your partner during your incapacity or when you die. We are here to help you craft a plan that addresses your concerns and help you ensure that your partner is taken care of during all phases of life. Call us today to schedule your in-person or virtual consultation.