Estate planning encompasses various legal documents and processes that ensure your wishes are fulfilled after you pass away. Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney are all part of the estate planning process. These types of documents typically cover legal relatives including parents, children, spouses, and siblings.
If you have a partner that you are not married to that you want to include in your estate plan, you must take special measures to ensure they are covered in the event of your incapacity or death.
The Importance of a Will
A will lays out what you wish to happen after you pass away. It can indicate to whom you want to leave property, name a guardian for any minor children, name a trustee to take care of your property, and name an executor who oversees the carrying out of your will.
If you do not create a will, your assets will go into intestate probate after you pass away, which means the state you live in will distribute your assets according to its own unique laws. Typically, your assets will go to your closest family members. This does not include an unmarried partner.
The only way an unmarried partner may receive assets in the event of your death is if you include them in your will. Additionally, if you only want to include your partner as a beneficiary temporarily, a trust is a good alternative option.
A trust differs from a will in that it may be updated throughout your lifetime, ensures your wishes are carried out by your successor, supports family members or designated beneficiaries according to their unique needs, and stipulates when your loved ones can access assets.
Need Help with Estate Planning? Contact Us Today
If you are thinking about beginning the estate planning process, or have already started it, our Durham estate planning attorneys are here to help. We can help you decide whether a will or a trust is better for your unique situation.
Contact Walker Lambe, PLLC at (919) 493-8411 to learn how we can assist you.