If you are in a relationship but not married, it is important that you talk with Oklahoma City estate planning lawyers. Marriage can make estate planning easier in many ways, and not being married means you may need to do more to protect your partner and control what happens to you and your partner at the end of your life. However, marriage also has implications regarding the flexibility you have with your estate planning, and you need to understand this, as well, before you tie the knot.
Parman & Easterday can help married and unmarried couples with their estate planning. We can provide comprehensive advice on the legal issues you must address to create the legacy you desire. We can work with you to create the legal tools you need to establish a comprehensive estate plan, whatever your marital situation. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can help you.
Why is Estate Planning Challenging for Unmarried Couples?
When a couple gets married and has a legal relationship in the eyes of the law, the court treats a spouse as a close living relative. A spouse can inherit under intestacy law if no estate plan has been created, and can automatically have the legal right to visit a husband or wife in the hospital in the event of a medical emergency. Spouses are also protected from being disinherited though rules creating a spousal elective share. A spousal elective share means a husband or wife could reject the inheritance provided in the will and claim a part of the estate instead.
If you decide not to get married, however, any romantic partner you may have – including someone who you may have been in a relationship with for decades and who may essentially be your de facto spouse – is not going to be provided with these same legal protections. This means if you do not make an estate plan, your partner may not get to see you if you’re sick, may not have any say in medical care decisions, and may not inherit any of your assets.
There are lots of reasons why people don’t get married, including wanting to preserve an inheritance for children from outside of the marriage. However, if you have decided not to be legally wed but still want your partner to have some (or all) of the same legal rights as a husband or wife, you need to make an estate plan to make that happen.
How Can Oklahoma City Estate Planning Lawyers Help?
Oklahoma City estate planning lawyers can assist you with the process of making an estate plan so you can protect a life partner who is not your legal spouse.
For example, we can work with you to create a legally valid will or use other estate planning tools to specify what you want your partner to inherit, whether money and/or property, after you pass away. Be aware, however, that while the law allows as many assets as you want to transfer to a spouse tax-free, this same rule doesn’t apply to unmarried parters. As a result, if you have a large estate that could be subject to estate tax, you will need to work with an experienced attorney to avoid or minimize estate tax when you create your estate plan and provide an inheritance to your partner.
You should also work with an estate planning lawyer to make sure your partner has the ability to see you, and even make medical decisions on your care and manage your affairs if you become sick or hurt. You can use tools such as a power of attorney to put your partner in charge of managing your assets in case of incapacity caused by a medical emergency and you can name your partner as a healthcare proxy to make your medical choices for you if you cannot consent to, or refuse, care.
Getting Help from Oklahoma City Estate Planning Lawyers
Parman & Easterday will work with you to determine what your goals are for estate planning and help you understand how your marital status and family situation can impact the plans you need or want to make. Whatever your specific situation, we can help you use the right legal tools to create a plan that provides asset protection, control over your legacy, and the ability to protect the people you love.
To find out more about what your estate plan should include, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call today at (405) 843-6100 or contact us online to get personalized advice on all of your estate planning needs.