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Naples Estate Planning Attorney for Unmarried Couples

lawyer discussing estate planning with unmarried couple

Why Do Unmarried Couples Need to Estate Plan in Naples?

If you are in a serious relationship, but not married, it is wise to meet with a Naples estate planning attorney to create an estate plan that reflects your domestic relationship. Unmarried couples are not protected under Florida’s intestate laws. Under Florida law, if you die without an estate plan in Naples, your unmarried partner will not inherit your property. It is irrelevant how close you were or whether you lived together for many years “like a married couple.” Instead, your property will be inherited by your bloodline relatives. It could even end up in the hands of a distant relative that you never met! The only way to ensure that your partner will receive your property is to tell everyone so by creating an estate plan.

Without an estate plan, an unmarried partner will be excluded from the decision-making after your death, such as organizing the funeral and burial arrangements. Furthermore, if you become incapacitated, your partner could be excluded from decision-making regarding your end-of-life care. Instead a Naples estate planning attorney, like James Nici of Naples Florida, can help draw up power of attorney documents that designate your significant other with decision making authority and access.  If you are in a committed, unmarried relationship, it is critical to reach out to a qualified Naples estate planning attorney.

Four Estate Planning Steps Unmarried Couples Should Take in Naples

Below are four estate planning steps that are essential for all unmarried couples living in Naples, Florida.

1. Write Your Wills

A will serves various purposes. First, it is a tool that you can use to leave your property to your unmarried partner. If you do not have a will and do not have children, your property would go to your parents and sibling instead of your partner. With a will, you are distributing your property according to your final wishes and “taking care” of your loving partner can be done through a properly executed will.  Additionally, you can designate your partner as your executor – the individual responsible for carrying out the terms of your will. Finally, if you have minor children, and their mother or father is no longer alive, you might want to designate your partner as guardian to raise your children.

2. Jointly Own Property

Owning property together can ensure that your partner will own 100% of the property when you pass away. Property owned jointly with the right of survivorship passes directly to the surviving owner and avoids probate. Avoiding probate can speed up the transfer, save expenses, and guarantee that it will not be contested.

Common property to own jointly includes homes and cars. To do this, both your and your partner’s names must be on the property’s official title document (i.e., the deed to the house).

3. Designate Your Partner as Your Beneficiary

Certain assets, such as retirement accounts, investment accounts, and life insurance policies, bypass probate and go directly to the named beneficiary. These assets are usually some of the most valuable in the estate so it is important to designate your partner as the beneficiary. Typically, this is done by completing a simple designation form. Each institution has its own form, so you should contact each bank or institution to confirm that your beneficiary designations are updated.

4. Make Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are necessary to give your unmarried partner legal authority in case you ever become incapacitated, and it is necessary for someone to step in and make decisions on your behalf. There are two primary powers of attorney that every unmarried couple living in Naples should have—a financial power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney.

A financial power of attorney gives your partner legal authority over your finances. Your partner will be able to pay bills, manage investments, sell property, and file taxes, among other tasks. This is essential to ensure that your affairs are handled and your partner is taken care of.

A healthcare power of attorney  gives your partner the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them on your own. Together with a healthcare power of attorney, you can draft a living will that outlines your wishes for end-of-life care. Your partner will be able to make sure your end of life wishes are honored.

If you do not create proper powers of attorney, your unmarried partner will be shut out from all financial and medical decision-making. Your unmarried partner would not be allowed to be by your side or help make decisions. This would be an unnecessarily agonizing situation.

Call a Naples Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have questions about estate planning as an unmarried couple, you should contact the Nici Law Firm. James R. Nici is an experienced Naples attorney with over 25 years of experience. He is experienced in all aspects of estate planning and can create an estate plan that fits your situation. Do not delay. Contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.

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