Massachusetts Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
At Kraft Law Offices, addressing both the legal and personal issues involved in creating effective legal security for domestic partners, whether gay, lesbian or straight, elderly or younger, is a regular part of our work. We guide you though the issues and options you need to consider from the perspective of a couple, without the presumptions related to marriage, so working with us is easy and comfortable. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about how we can work together to create security and peace of mind for you, your partner, and any others who are important in your life.
Both federal and Massachusetts law treats unmarried partners if they were strangers - no matter how long they have been together or how intertwined their lives may be. The only rights unmarried partners have are those they create for themselves through legal documents such as health care proxies, powers of attorney and living trusts.
While most couples want and expect their partner to be the one to care for them, to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so themselves, to be the first to visit them in the hospital, and to receive some or all their property when they die, the law presumes an unmarried person's family will take all those roles to the exclusion of the partner, unless the partners have created explicit legal documents designating each other as decision-maker and beneficiary. Therefore creating legal documents to establish your partner in those roles is absolutely critical.
Many unmarried partners want their mutual resources to be used primarily to support the survivor when only one of them is still living, but after both of them have died, each partner wants his or her share of the assets to go to the people or charities they have designated. A living trust is the best way to address these and many other objectives since a simple will, alone, cannot implement those instructions.
A domestic partnership or cohabitation agreement is usually the best way to define the rights and obligations of the partners, both while you are together and after one partner has died, or in the event you should split up. These agreements are even more important when the partners have children from a previous relationship and/or where one partner has more wealth than the other.
Couples with children and blended families have additional concerns and needs to make sure the family remains intact and the people you designate will step in to care for your minor children if something were to happen to you.
At Kraft Law Offices, we address these and many other issues when working with unmarried couples thinking about estate planning. We take a positive approach to anticipating and creating protection for you and your partner across a wide range of contingencies. Contact a Massachusetts trusts and estates attorney from Kraft Law Offices in Boston to learn more about the estate planning options available to unmarried couples and which ones are right for you.