Creating a Colorado estate plan is essential for everyone, especially for couples who live together and are not married. According to the state intestate laws, the property of people who die without a will passes to their spouse or children. However, no federal or Colorado laws allow unmarried couples to ensure the same smooth transition of property and assets. Because of this, it is essential for unmarried couples to create an estate plan and to allow their partner to make health care and inheritance decisions on their behalf.
While there are no laws protecting the assets of unmarried partners, there are estate planning steps these couples can take to guarantee their end-of-life decisions are handled in the way they wish. One such option for couples is to designate each other as their durable power of attorney. This appoints an individual to act on financial and legal matters in the event of incapacitation. Similar to a power of attorney, it may be critical for unmarried couples to appoint each other as their health care proxy. A health care proxy can make health care decisions for another person when they can no longer do so themselves. Without taking these steps, the partner might have to go to court to seek the appointment of a conservator, all of which could have been avoided through the proper estate planning documentation.
Beyond appointing a power of attorney and health care proxy, one way to ensure property passes to an unmarried partner is to jointly own the property with the right of survivorship. However, joint ownership can create problems because removing a joint owner can be difficult and can trigger income tax issues. Because of this, creating a revocable living trust is often a preferable option for many unmarried couples.
A revocable living trust allows a person to have maximum control over their assets and gives their partner protection after their death. When forming a revocable trust, an individual specifies how their assets should be handled during their lifetime and after death. The partner can either be named as a co-trustee so the couple can work together on their finances, or they can be named a successor trustee to oversee the trust after the loved one has passed. If a person and their partner separate, they can change the trust without re-titling or dividing assets. Creating a revocable trust eliminates the time, cost, and loss of control that comes with not having an estate plan in place, especially for unmarried couples who do not have the same protections under the law as married people.
Creating an estate plan for unmarried partners can often be complicated. Because of this, it is critical to consult a Colorado estate planning attorney who has the experience working with unmarried couples to navigate potential problems and ensure a person’s wishes are respected after death.
Contact a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney
If you or someone you love has estate planning questions or concerns, contact the experienced Boulder estate planning attorneys at Braverman Law Group. We provide comprehensive estate planning for unmarried Colorado couples that takes into account every person’s unique situation. By taking the time to explain the process and how we can help, we ensure your matters are handled in a dedicated and caring way. Contact our office at 303-800-1588 to schedule a risk-free consultation.