In today’s modern landscape, an increasing number of couples are opting to become life partners rather than taking the route of traditional marriage. While unmarried couples don’t share all of the same legal rights as married couples, specific estate planning can go a long way to bridge the gaps.

Let’s explore some estate planning tips to help you better manage your finances, shield your loved ones, and strategize for the future.

1. Handling Real Estate

A good estate plan ensures your assets keep clear of the strenuous process of probate. In many cases, the most valuable asset in such a setting involves real estate. To protect your partner once you pass away, consider these two things in view of real estate:

  • Naming a partner as a joint tenant creates the right of survivorship tied to your loved one and the real estate. Here, property held as a joint tenancy passes automatically to the surviving partner upon the demise of the other joint tenant.
  • Alternatively, you can transfer your real estate portfolio to a Living Trust for you personally or a joint trust citing your partner. After your demise, your partner assumes the legal status of successor trustee over the property.

2. List Your Partner as the Beneficiary for Your Financial Accounts

Bank accounts, IRAs, and insurance policies, among other accounts, allow you to designate a beneficiary who, moving forward, has a legal claim to the account following your demise without any need for probate. For you to protect your loved one, name them as the beneficiary for the accounts. 

3. Grant Your Partner the Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney document is important since it states how your affairs ought to be handled in the event you become incapacitated. Granting your loved one power of attorney allows them to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf and execute your end-of-life directives.

4. Place All Assets in a Will/Trust

Based on where you live and the applicable laws, failing to have your assets in a will or trust opens up an avenue for the probate court to intervene on how and to whom your estate is distributed. In many instances, the assets ought to be assigned as follows:

  • To a surviving spouse or offspring (not unmarried partner)
  • Second, to the deceased’s parents when there’s no spouse or kids
  • Finally, to the deceased’s siblings

In most states, partners without proof of marriage have no claim to the deceased’s property. A will or trust is the best vehicle when you want your partner to access your assets without having to go through the arduous probate process.

5. The Digital Estate Plan

This is a relatively new concept in the realm of digital space. It grants your partner an active role in carrying out your wishes regarding your digital accounts; including Facebook, Instagram, email, and Twitter after your death.


Once you and your loved one have truly established a commitment forgoing traditional marriage, the next step is to begin planning your estate. Estate planning is a meticulous process that both parties must consider once they’re serious or outrightly committed.

At some point, an estate comes into question once one partner passes away. Be proactive now and minimize any potential chaos in the future. Need to avoid the probate process, safeguard your wishes, or take care of your partner? The trusted legal team at Foley Law Offices in Livonia has over thirty years of experience and is ready to assist you in navigating through this important and impactful area of law.

Let us help you decide on the right tools to plan for certain life eventualities. Start your estate plan today!