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Estate planning for unmarried couples can be crucially important

Even though no one likes to think about planning for their death, it's still a vital part of life. Living wills, trusts and health proxies are all important items to have in place. However, in most states, challenges arise for couples who are not married, when it comes to making end of life arrangements.

For married couples, inheritance rights come into play even if couples have not done any estate planning. That means that in a marriage, one spouse will automatically inherit the property of the other in the event that one of them passes away.

Though most states do not grant the same rights to unmarried couples as they do to married couples, unmarried couples who live together -- regardless of their gender -- can overcome this via a detailed will. This will ensure that each partner is taken care of in the event of the other partner's death.

Additionally, it is crucial to plan for situations down the road while couples are still alive. For example, an important part of estate planning is having a health care representative designation document in place. There have been many cases when one partner in a relationship was not even allowed to visit the other partner in the hospital because that person was not considered family. This document ensures that this type of problem will not occur.

Even though some people in Michigan might think of estate planning as being just for married couples or the elderly, those who decide not to marry are encouraged to make it a priority. The last thing a grieving person wants to hear is that they are unable to inherit anything from their late partner.

Source: NWI Times, "Estate Planning: Do non-married couples need to plan?" Christopher W. Yugo, May 18, 2013

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