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.


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Southern IN Estate Planning Lawyer James Plitz