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Couples who are not married may need estate planning as well

The growing trend in the Kent area and across the United States is for couples to live together and not necessarily get married. Cohabitation with a partner rose 25 percent between 2000 and 2010. In these situations, estate planning, such as a will, is important.

When a couple is together, but not married, there are certain things they need to do to ensure their assets are passed to their partner in case one of them dies. A partner needs to be listed as a beneficiary on life insurance, pensions, 401k accounts and all other bank and investment accounts. A will is also necessary to make sure all wishes are spelled out legally.

If one partner owns the home, the couple should make sure the property is correctly titled. If the partner who owns the house dies, that person's family may inherit the home and remove the other partner from the home. Partners should buy the home together and have both names on the house or place the home in the will. A life estate can also be created to ensure the partner can remain in the home.

In addition, a person can suffer from a medical emergency or health crisis. In these situations, it is important that the incapacitated partner has the documentation necessary so that their partner can make the important medical decisions. If there isn't a power of attorney or medical directive, the partner may not be allowed to make these important and emotional decisions.

A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning can help a couple with their estate planning needs. An attorney has the experience necessary to know what documents a couple should have in place to ensure their wishes will be honored.

Source:, "4 estate planning tips for unmarried couples", Marcia Passos Duffy, accessed Sept. 15, 2016

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