Today I spoke with someone whose domestic partner of 24 years died prematurely at 62. They had no estate plan, and that made me think about how many couples out there are in the same situation.
There are joint assets and separate assets to consider. Unfortunately, Arizona law does not provide for a domestic partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, life partner, or whatever term you use to refer to your significant other. The law only provides for heirs-at-law, such as children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, etc.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for unmarried couples to take the appropriate steps to create an estate plan. It’s already important for married couples, but even more so for their non-married counterparts.
For example, let’s say Jack and Jill are not married, have no kids, and don’t have an estate plan. If Jack passes away, this is how things will go:
1. Jack’s separate bank accounts will go to his parents.
2. Jack and Jill’s joint bank accounts will go to Jill.
3. Jack’s house will go to his parents.
4. Jack’s IRA with Jill as a beneficiary will go to Jill.
Legally, Jack’s parents could kick Jill out of his house because they would inherit the property under Arizona law. Maybe Jack trusted his parents not to do that, but death has a funny way of affecting people, so trust me when I say that it could happen!
Please be proactive about creating an estate plan. When you’re ready to take that step to protect your partner, call me and we’ll discuss it!