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Idaho Estate Planning for an Unmarried Couple

According to the US Census Bureau, about 115 million people in the United States are unmarried. Additionally they found that approximately 47% of the households in America are made up of unmarried couples. Based on these results, it appears that individuals who live together without being married is a regular part of family life in the United States. While the numbers or percentages may be a little different in Idaho, the fact remains that there are many unmarried couples in Idaho that are in committed relationships with each other. With over 70 years of experience in Idaho estate planning we have helped many unmarried couples create an estate plan that considers their relationship and provides for each other.

Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys consists of partners Randy Budge, and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nate Palmer, and Dave Bagley. These lawyers have each individually obtained the highest rankings possible from several independent legal rating services including Justia, Martindale and Hubbell, and AVVO. We are confident that with our experience our Idaho estate planning team of lawyers can help you.

If you are an unmarried couple and you are seeking advice about creating an Idaho state plan, here are a few things that you should know.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?

The first thing that you should consider if you are an unmarried couple in Idaho is what happens if you don't have a last will and testament. The purpose of a last will and testament is for you to provide specific instructions about who will receive your property, money, and assets after you pass away. A last will and testament is a binding document in Idaho that has legal power to carry out your specific instructions.

Any individual in Idaho, whether married or not, who does not have a last will and testament, and then passes away, will be subject to the laws of intestacy. In Idaho, as with most States, if you do not have a last will and testament, the state creates a default will for you that is known as the laws of intestacy. These laws provide specific instructions on who your property, money, and assets will go to after you pass away.

The important thing for an unmarried couple to understand is that the laws of intestacy almost always provide preferential treatment to relatives, such as spouses, children, siblings and so forth. Even though you may have lived with an individual for decades, if you are not married to them, you have no personal relationship that is recognized legally. If your partner were to pass away without a last will and testament, it is very likely that their property would go to relatives and not to you.

Based on the laws of intestacy we always encourage individuals to create a valid written last will and testament. With a last will and testament any individual that you name to receive a portion of your estate will receive preferential treatment. The law will work to carry out the instructions that you leave and to make distributions to whoever is listed in your will.

Would a Trust Work for You?

Another important thing that you should understand is that even if you are an unmarried couple a trust could work as well for you as a last will and testament. A trust is a estate planning mechanism used for you to transfer property away from yourself to the trust while you are alive. The trust then carries out you are specific instructions about who the property in the trust should benefit and or go to.

As an unmarried couple you can set up a trust that will provide for your partner. It also gives you the ability to leave Specific Instructions about how that property can benefit your partner. You have the choice of allowing them to use the property during their life, and then having the property transfer to another individual later. Alternatively, in your trust, you can make an outright distribution to whoever you choose, including your partner. Depending on your circumstances, a trust may be a wise choice for you as an unmarried couple.

Are There Other Estate Planning Documents That You Need?

As an unmarried couple a last will and testament, or a trust, are not the only estate planning documents that you should consider preparing. In addition to these documents, you should specifically consider creating powers of attorney for your property and finances and for your health care.

These documents give you the ability to decide who will have power to make decisions for you and care for you, if you suddenly become unable to do this for yourself. For example, if you have a stroke, and suddenly are no longer capable of paying your bills and dealing with your finances, a power of attorney gives you the ability to name another individual who can do these things for you. If you do not have a power of attorney, and the circumstance arises, the courts require a legal guardianship Court proceeding to occur.

In these Court proceedings any individual who has an interest in your wellbeing, such as relatives or other family members, have the ability to ask the court to give them this power. As an unmarried couple, there will be no preferential treatment for your partner. However, through these documents you have the ability to name in each person you choose regardless of whether you are married to them, or related to them in any other way. As a result, powers of attorney are a very important part of your estate planning as an unmarried couple.

Enlist An Idaho Estate Planning Attorney To Help You

We are confident that our Idaho Estate Planning lawyers can help you. Whether you are an unmarried couple seeking to create or review your own customized Estate Plan or would like to help a family member do the same, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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