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Unmarried couples possess estate planning options

Many couples in Nevada choose to live together without getting married, making for a situation that can lead to a spectrum of interesting financial and tax issues begging consideration. While there may be some advantages to remaining unmarried, including possible income tax benefits, there are some potential drawbacks in terms of estate planning. However, according to authorities, many of these drawbacks can be avoided by taking certain steps.

While a will is typically advisable for all individuals, it may prove particularly valuable to unmarried couples, authorities on the matter state. In many cases, when married people die, their surviving spouse inherits most of the estate, even if there is no will. Because this rule does not apply to unmarried couples, regardless of how long they have been living together, it may be crucial for unwed couples to draft a will.

While drafting a will to establish inheritance may be a good idea, using a trust may be a better option for unmarried couples, authorities note. That is because family members who wish to contest the terms of inheritance may find it more difficult when a trust has been initiated.

Drafting a health care directive might be another prudent step for unmarried couples to take, according to authorities. This document authorizes designated individuals to make important medical decisions if their partners were to become incapacitated. While a spouse may be granted this authority without a health care directive, an unmarried partner may be left without any authority whatsoever.

Getting married provides couples with numerous legal protections, and some of these may be available to unmarried couples with thoughtful estate planning. An attorney with experience in this area may explain to interested couples the possible legal consequences of remaining unmarried as well as measures that can be taken if they choose to remain unwed.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Financial Advice for Unmarried Couples", Russ Weiss, November 09, 2014

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