Why Unmarried Partners Should Care about Estate Planning


Research shows more people are entering long-term relationships without getting married. An estate plan is critical in these situations.  Otherwise, your partner could end up with nothing when you pass away.  

The Law Is Not on Your Side 

Without an estate plan, your state’s intestacy statute determines who receives your property when you die. Laws vary by state, but generally your property will go first to your surviving spouse if married, then to your descendants, in that order. If you intended to provide something to your partner but failed to plan, they may receive nothing under the law. 

If you have a life insurance policy or a retirement account and fail to complete the beneficiary designation forms, the proceeds may go through probate and be paid to your estate.  Alternatively, the proceeds may go to individuals according to the order outlined in the policy. Usually, these will be your family members, not your partner.   

Personal Matters 

It is also important to consider who will make financial or medical decisions if you are unable. If you do not name someone, the state will apply its own order of priority and appoint someone. Depending on the statute, your partner may not be on the list or may have a lower priority than your relatives.  

Actions to Take Now 

If protecting your partner is important to you, here are a few things you can do today: 

  • Review your beneficiary designations. They must be filled out correctly to be effective. 

  • Review how your accounts and property are owned.  Also, it is important to know who has access to the account used for expenses so your partner can continue paying the bills if you become incapacitated or pass away.   

  • Give us a call. We are here to help even if you already have an estate plan, let us review your documents to make sure they still meet your needs.   

The attorneys at Pearson Bollman Law practice in the areas of estate planning, probate/trust administration, special needs trusts, and elder law, which includes Medicaid and VA Pension Planning.  If you would like to schedule a free one-hour consultation, please give us a call at 515-727-0986.  

Related Posts
  • Do Caregiver Duties Help Older Women Live Longer? Read More
  • A Seniors Guide to Estate Planning Read More
  • Talking With a Loved One About Long-Term Care Read More