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Wills among estate documents important for unmarried couples

Couples who are married or who are simply living together in New York would be wise to consider estate planning matters in fair and sensible manners. The biggest error that many couples make is that they fail to plan and do not discuss their financial lives. Good communication can help couples to create wills that take into consideration their unique needs, in addition to tackling other parts of a comprehensive estate plan.

Joint tenancy is one important area to consider during the estate planning process. When property is held in joint tenancy accounts, along with rights of survivorship, ownership can be transferred directly to a deceased person's surviving partner without probate even with no will. A beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy can achieve the same thing. The same principle applies to a retirement account as well.

It is also wise for both members of a couple to give one another powers of attorney for health care choices, as well as financial decisions on one another's behalf. Many people fail to do this, instead simply making assumptions regarding what their partners would desire, or they ignore having to make the tough decisions. However, doing this will only make things harder if the worst happens, including if a partner becomes either permanently or temporarily incapacitated or if he or she passes away.

Although talking about death is not necessarily appealing for many people in New York, the failure to create estate plans, including wills, can have undesirable consequences. For instance, one's assets may not end up in the hands of those whom one intends to receive them. An applied understanding of the law may help people to complete estate planning in a way that protects both them and their loved ones.

Source: valdostatoday.com, "Financial and Estate Planning Tips That Unmarried Couples Need to Consider", Bob Lambert, Oct. 27, 2015

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