Estate planning for unmarried couplesToday it has become increasingly common for people in relationships to choose to devote themselves to one another without getting married.  While these couples may share a home and assets, the law limits their ability to inherit from one another outside of marriage.  Therefore for unmarried couples who wish their partner to inherit their property or be involved in their estate, it will be vital that they take time to prepare an estate plan which is inclusive of their partner.


If a Michigan resident dies without a will, the court will have no choice but to distribute their property and assets to certain relatives according to a specific order.  Absent a will, the person’s romantic partner will not be included in this line of succession.  Therefore, someone who wishes to leave property to their partner must have a last will and testament or “will” which states their wishes.  Having a will in place will not only protect your partner’s interest but can also serve to help loved ones avoid conflict with one another later.

Patient Advocate Designation and Power of Attorney

If someone becomes incapacitated the law usually allows spouses to step in to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf.  The law does not provide for a romantic partner to automatically assume these roles.   Therefore, if a person wants their partner to have the authority to make medical decisions in the event of they are unable, they will need to execute a Patient Advocate Designation which names their partner.  Likewise, they will also want to prepare a financial power of attorney which gives their partner to authority to make decisions regarding their finances.

Guardianship and Conservatorship 

If a person’s incapacitation is expected to become long-term or permanent, they may require a guardianship, where another person becomes responsible for decisions about their daily care.  They may also need a conservator, who will be required to manage their financial matters.  These designations will not necessarily be available to a romantic partner without some kind of indication that this person is the one preferred to be in these roles.  By having documentation of your preferences in place, you can help ensure you have the person you want making choices on your behalf.

Estate planning for unmarried couples is vital as there are no protections under the law for romantic partners.  By having your plan in order, you can ensure your loved one is provided for and in the position to advocate for you.  Further, having your preferences and directions recorded regarding your partner will help resolve any conflicts with other family members before they arise.

We have experience helping individuals plan for their estates and the ones that they love.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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