Estate Planning Attorney for Unmarried Indiana Couples
Estate planning is a necessary step for every individual, regardless of their life situation. When two individuals live together in a committed relationship without being married, however, it is even more essential to engage in proactive estate planning, as unmarried, cohabitating couples do not automatically have the legal rights of married couples.
Although unmarried couples do not automatically benefit from the legal protection afforded by marriage, many of these protections can still be realized through a meticulous and strategic estate plan. If you are cohabitating with a partner, I invite you to call Plitz Estate Planning to schedule a free initial interview to understand that actions should be taken to protect you and your partner.
What You Should Know About Your Legal Rights in Indiana if You Are Not Married to Your Partner
If you’re not married to your partner in Indiana, the following are a few important issues that should be considered:
If unmarried couples have jointly owned assets (such as joint bank accounts) upon death, the surviving joint owner will be entitled to the property. Conversely, if an unmarried individual passes without a will, estate plan, or property or accounts titled as co-owned, his or her assets will pass intestate. Under Indiana intestacy law, all of an unmarried decedent’s assets will be inherited by his or her survivors, which may include children, parents, brothers, and sisters, but which will not include the person’s partner.
Many individuals erroneously believe that Indiana allows common-law marriages, which entitles individuals who cohabitate for a certain period to marital status and rights. However, Indiana only recognizes common law marriages entered into before 1958.
Consequently, in most cases, couples who are living together simply don’t have the same protections under the law that married people do. As a result, if you are cohabitating and wish to protect your rights, you should understand that many important rights can only be protected through proper estate planning.
Unlike married couples, cohabitating partners do not have the same legal rights to assets as married couples. Thus, many instances arise where one unmarried partner dies without naming the other partner in an estate plan, passing all assets intestate to other blood relatives (such as children, parents, siblings, etc.).
Also, upon dissolution of a relationship, cohabitating partners are not entitled to a share of the assets or spousal support (also referred to as “alimony”). Additionally, a surviving partner is not entitled to valuable government death benefits, such as social security survivor compensation.
Those who are not married must also consider questions such as:
- In the event of a medical emergency, will your partner be able to visit you in the hospital and make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to provide consent?
- Who is entitled to make funeral arrangements if you or your partner dies?
- Who will inherit your assets? Without a will, your partner could be left with nothing.
- What will happen to the assets you accumulated during your relationship if you and your partner separate?
If you are part of a cohabitating partnership, whether in a hetero or same-sex relationship, it’s crucial to get legal assistance to protect your assets, wishes, and loved ones. As an experienced Indiana cohabitation agreement attorney, I can help you navigate the nuances of Indiana cohabitation law so that you have a full understanding of your rights and responsibilities.
The rights of a person to inherit property from someone who dies without a will extend to those who are spouses, parents, children, or siblings of the deceased. However, if a marriage does not occur, an individual will not be entitled to inherit property or assets from someone they are not related to through blood or adoption unless a will, trust, or cohabitation agreement specifies otherwise.
A cohabitation agreement is a contractual agreement entered into between people living together in the same household who are in a romantic relationship. These agreements are designed to address significant personal, financial, and family issues that may arise in the event of an emergency or breakup.
The proceeds of life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial assets must also be taken into consideration. A cohabitation agreement can set forth the wishes of one or both parties in regard to the proceeds of life insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, and other assets. With such stipulations in place, conflicts are less likely to arise.
Schedule A Free Initial Consultation With An Experienced New Albany Estate Planning Lawyer for Unmarried and Cohabitating Couples.
If you are cohabitating with a romantic partner, it is vital to ensure that you protect both your and your partner’s interests through methodical and pragmatic estate planning. Call Plitz Estate Planning today to schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options for ensuring your loved ones are protected and your wishes are followed.
Jim is a great resource for our trust. He is easy to contact, very knowledgeable, and patient. His personable manner makes it easy to discuss and resolve complicated issues. His explanations are relatable and down to earth. Thanks Jim!
Jim is upright, honest, and outstanding at what he does. He works hard and tries to do the right thing by his clients.
We would recommend James as a Trust Attorney without hesitation. While he is extremely knowledgeable, he is also down to earth. He takes the time to educate you using every-day layman’s language. He is genuinely interested in you and not just interested in what he needs to know to do the job and receive payment…
Jim knows his business. I especially like how he gets back to us quickly with understandable explanations to our questions. I have recommended Jim to friends who have been equally pleased…
John and I first met Jim when we needed to update our Trust. He was knowledgeable, competent, and personable. However, I appreciated him much more after John’s death. He understood the grief! He walked me through the steps to divide and update the trusts…
James Plitz is the best! He is always there when you need him to help answer any questions about your Estate Planning. The Estate Planning that he does for you is outstanding! I lost my husband 4 years ago, and James was amazing in all the help that he gave me in navigating that process…
It is my privilege to be working with Jim. From the moment we met, I knew that he was the person I wanted to represent me. He instilled a quiet confidence, excellent knowledge – trust and respect. I would always want Jim ‘in my corner’!..
My wife and I have discussed a few changes in our living trust with James Plitz and we think he has given us some very good advice. It has been a pleasure working with him.
I began my relationship with My. Plitz when he was in New Mexico and enjoyed the expertise and care he provided. I felt secure with him and had confidence in the consulting work he will continue to do on my behalf as he transitions to his own estate planning firm in Indiana.
Jim was extremely helpful in creating our trusts and other legal documents. Since I have some training in contracts, Jim was very accommodating and worked with me on changes that I suggested. If I did not understand some aspects of the legal documents, he was very willing to provide a thorough and clear explanation…
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