Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

To put it simply, estate planning for unmarried couples involves deciding how you want each of your assets distributed after you die (or become unable to make your own financial decisions). Estate planning for unmarried couples can be complicated, so it's best to consult a financial adviser and a lawyer when drawing up your estate plan.

A Guide to Using Estate Planning Documents

Let's look at some basic estate planning documents and how each estate planning document can protect an unmarried couple from losing out on each other’s assets.

A Will

If you and your partner don’t have wills, your home state will determine who will inherit each of your estates assets when you die. Upon death your entire estate will be held up in probate, and the decisions of distribution will be up to the courts. Court distribution will give your assets to your brothers and sisters first then back up to your parents if you have no siblings. Your surviving spouse gets nothing if there’s no will.

The Lawyers at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm can consult with you and your significant other about whether a will or a trust would be helpful in your estate plan. Even if you have a trust, however, you still need a Will as part of the trust.

Pre-marriage Agreements

A domestic partnership agreement, or DPA Comparable to a prenuptial agreement, this contract is a useful way to address how you plan to share your income, expenses and property. In this agreement, you can specify which property you hold jointly and which is separate.

If you don't live in a marriage equality state but plan to get married in one, check with your lawyer about the legal ramifications. Then, if you will tie the knot, have a prenuptial agreement drawn up before exchanging vows.

Unmarried couples living in a marriage-equality jurisdiction may also benefit from a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Discuss this with your lawyer, too, since the DOMA decision has evened the playing field for you. It’s a good idea to include a mediation or arbitration clause in these forms. That way, you and your partner can resolve disputes without resorting to expensive litigation.

Health Care

HIPAA authorization the health insurance portability and accountability act allows you to authorize medical providers to discuss your condition and prognosis with your partner. Without it, doctors may claim that they can speak only with “immediate family” — and in most states, your partner is not considered “immediate family.” Avoid this problem by having an attorney help you with the HIPAA forms and a Living Will. The attorneys at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm can help you prepare a durable health care proxy that supersedes incompetency in the event of sickness, old age or unexpected tragedy.

Estate planning is the process of legally structuring the future disposition of current and projected assets during life and in death. It's important to have a basic estate plan in place regardless of your net worth. Although it may seem like a morbid chore, estate planning offers many benefits:

  • Protect your assets from Medicaid.
  • Your wishes will be legally binding.
  • Your heirs will not have to pay estate tax, with proper estate planning with an estate planning attorney.
  • You get to name the people to whom you wish to give your assets.

You get to name the people to whom you wish to give your assets, and your wishes will be legally binding. You can arrange it so that taxes take little to nothing from your estate. You have the satisfaction of knowing that your financial affairs are in order, so you won't bequeath a costly administrative nightmare to your loved ones.

An estate plan can include several elements:

  • A Will, in a Will your basic directives of who will get your assets are put into writing.
  • Assignment of power of attorney, which gives the person you name the authority to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so.
  • A living will, which is a statement of your wishes for the kind of life-sustaining medical intervention you want, or don't want, in the event that you become terminally ill and unable to communicate.
  • A health care proxy, which authorizes someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • For some people, a trust may make more sense. A living trust will avoid the costs of probate; if properly funded.

Make an appointment with one of the elder law estate planning attorneys at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm today to discuss your options. Unmarried couple Estate Planning must be drafted carefully in order to ensure proper estate planning. Work with a reputable estate planner to make sure that your trusts are structured correctly.  If you or your loved ones have liquid assets or you own your own home your heirs are at risk of losing a significant part of your assets upon you getting sick or upon your untimely death.  It is more important than ever to prepare an estate plan if you have stocks, bonds, money market accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, CD's annuities or an IRA. An IRA can be protected with an IRA standalone retirement trust.  An IRA Standalone Retirement Trust must be drafted carefully in order to ensure that the trust qualifies as a “Designated Beneficiary.” This guarantees that the trust will be able to take out the minimum required distributions according to the beneficiary’s life expectancy, not the plan participant’s. If the trust is not set up properly, the entire inherited IRA will need to be withdrawn within five years of the plan participant’s death. Work with a reputable planner to make sure your trust is structured correctly and that your beneficiary, and not his or her creditor will receive the funds you pass down. The attorneys at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm are not only trained in handling simple elder law planning, estate planning, will and probate matters, we take care of complex estate planning, elder law and living trust estate litigation in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Bronx, Westchester, Richmond County, Manhattan and Brooklyn Kings County New York.


A few specific tips if you have one or more children: You name a guardian in the will to ensure the person you prefer will take care of your child or children, if necessary. Also, if state law allows, enter into a second-parent or joint adoption arrangement. If not, The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm can draft a joint custody agreement and file it in court. This document will support the position that the two of you are parenting the child, which will also prove helpful if the relationship ends.

Again, check with a lawyer at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm first because, the rules have changed depending on where you live and the date that you are reading this material.

A child born to an unmarried couple living in a marriage-equality jurisdiction will be considered a child of the marriage and both spouses will have parental rights. If you've adopted a child and plan to move to a state without marriage equality, that state is required to recognize the parental rights of both parents, which makes adoption a preferred method to establish parental rights.

Get a Free Consultation Today

About the Website of The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm and the legal information on the screen above: We hope you find this information useful and informative, but it is not the same as legal counsel. A free website is ultimately worth everything it costs you; you rely on it at your own risk. This website and any other website on this legal topic does not substitute real legal advice, face to face with an attorney. Good legal advice includes a review of all of the facts of your situation, including many that may at first glance seem to you not to matter. The plan it generates is sensitive to your goals and wishes while taking into account a whole panoply of laws, rules and practices, many not published online. Speak with an attorney today to help resolve any legal issues that you and your family may be facing.

The lawyers at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm are dedicated to your success — so contact us. Speak with one of our knowledgeable Long Island, estate planning, will, living trust estate litigation attorneys today from wherever you are in New York in Nassau and Suffolk, Brooklyn, Kings and Queens Counties, on Long Island and all New York City boroughs including Bronx, Westchester, Richmond County, and Manhattan. Call 800-200-1529 today.

Call 1-800-200-1529 today.

Get help with your Estate Plan now be properly prepared for your loved ones with the proper estate plan.  You should know you have certain legal rights and must be very selective of the estate law lawyer or elder law firm that you chose to represent you with your estate litigation.

Call 1-800-200-1529 today.

You should know you have certain legal rights and must be very selective of the lawyer or law firm that you chose to represent you. Have an attorney council you on the right decision for you and your family.

Contact Us
phone number