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Russell C. Golowin, J.D., LL.M.
1820 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 100
Columbus, Ohio 43212

 Tel: (614) 487-8887
Fax: (614) 486-8883
russ@golowinlegal.com

 

 


Unmarried Couples

It has been reported that marriage conveys a potential one thousand (1,000) or more rights for each partner in a marriage.**  These rights include the following:

  • Protections under probate inheritance laws;
  • Preferences under rules for healthcare and disability proxies;
  • Ability to transfer substantial sums to one another without a gift or estate tax liability;
  • Survivor's benefits under pension, retirement and the Social Security system; and
  • Alimony and other rights to the other spouse's property upon termination of marriage.**

These benefits are not available for partners who, for whatever reason, are not officially married.  In order to achieve similar protections and benefits, they must engage in comprehensive estate planning.

An example of the devastating results unmarried couples may face without planning is as follows:

Steve and Tara are in their 40's and have known each other since High School.  They have lived with each other for the last 10 years, and while they refer to each other as being married, they are not recognized by the state as being so.  They have no children, and no estate plan.

Steve's parents have never approved of his relationship with Tara, and for the last ten years have refused to speak with Steve.  Steve considers Tara his family now, and wishes to provide for her above all others.

Unfortunately, Steve is in a car accident and is in a coma.  Tara rushes to the hospital to visit Steve, but the hospital limits visitors to "immediate family", which to them means next of kin.  Tara is neither, and she is denied access because they have no estate plan.  Further, the hospital will not release medical information on Steve's status to Tara since she is not a spouse or family member.  She is left in the dark.

At this point, medical decisions need to be made for Steve, and the only people authorized to do so are Steve's family members, who have shunned him for ten years.  Again, Tara is left out because of the lack of proper planning.

Steve passes away some time later, and things get worse.  Tara has no rights of inheritance that a spouse would get, and all of Steve's assets go to his parents.  Tara is completely left out, despite her 10 years of living with her loved one, simply because they were not married and had not planned ahead.

Planning for unmarried couples is especially important.  If you'd like a free consultation to discuss how these issues can be avoided in your life, please contact me.

**This information is contained in the excellent book Loving Without A License.  To order a copy, visit www.lovingwithoutalicense.com.

 


 
 
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