Many of us avoid the subject of death whenever possible. We don’t plan for what will happen to our property, who will care for our minor children, or even whether we’ll be buried or cremated. Unfortunately, this invites disaster for unmarried couples. If you die without a will or other legal means
Probate is a court proceeding where your will is filed, assets gathered, debts and taxes paid, and property distributed to your beneficiaries. The process is time-consuming and expensive. Although the cost of probate (attorney fees, court filing fees, and often, appraisal fees) varies, depending on your
Traditionally, the federal government has levied a tax on the net worth of property you leave at death (the estate tax) or give away while you are alive (the gift tax). In addition to federal taxes, a number of states also impose their own estate tax (on the estate, before property is distributed to
Many people make burial or cremation plans informally, trusting their loved ones to take care of the details after death. This works fine if you’re confident your plans will be carried out. Sometimes, however, families ignore the deceased person’s wishes and substitute their own, especially if they
There are a few simple legal documents you should prepare if you want critical decisions about your medical care and personal finances to stay in the hands of your partner: a durable power of attorney for finances and health care directives. Without these documents, your partner may not be allowed to direct your health care in the event of a medical emergency or handle a simple financial transaction when you're unable to make decisions for yourself.
All couples benefit from clearly agreeing who will pay for the rent, car installments, or groceries. When you live together, you must also decide whether to pool your money and the property you buy with that money, or keep it all separate. This section provides an overview of an unmarried couple’s
A credit grantor generally will provide credit to anyone who is a good financial risk. A person with no apparent source of income, with a history of long periods of unemployment, who regularly pays bills late or misses payments, or who has recently declared bankruptcy, isn’t a good risk. A person with
Normally, each partner in an unmarried couple keeps his or her own last name. It’s easy, legal, and creates few, if any, practical problems. Occasionally, however, members of an unmarried couple want to use the same last name—his name, her name, a hyphenated version of the two names, or a completely
In most cases, being unmarried does not negatively affect the amount of taxes you pay. In fact, some unmarried couples pay less in federal income taxes than do married couples. In addition, some unmarried partners can claim the other partner as a dependent, which qualifies them for an additional exemption.
Unmarried couples that live together are often at a disadvantage when it comes to Social Security benefits—especially if one partner stays at home caring for children or running the household. Typically, you qualify for Social Security benefits based on your own earnings record. If you don’t work
People who receive public benefits often worry that they will be cut off if their partner moves in. If you receive benefits based on your financial condition and a physical or mental condition—aid to the aged, blind, or disabled, for example—you don’t risk any loss. Broadly speaking, these programs
Generally speaking, unmarried couples can purchase most types of insurance at competitive rates. This is usually easy to do, especially if you co-own property. Be sure to shop around, because prices can vary dramatically. This article won’t help you decide whether or not you need a particular type
Generally, one member of a married couple is liable to pay for all, or at least a substantial portion of, health and nursing home care for the other, over and above what is reimbursed by public or private insurance. (State laws allow a healthy spouse of modest means to keep (exempt) a portion of the
If you ever become unable to make your own health care decisions or manage your own finances—because of injury, serious illness, or advanced age—you probably want your partner to step in and take care of you. Unfortunately, unmarried couples, unlike their married counterparts, often aren’t permitted