More and more people are choosing to postpone marriage, and many are choosing to avoid the institution altogether. Many in Ohio are perfectly content to live with their partner in a fulfilling and committed relationship, the duration of which surpasses many marriages. While there is nothing wrong with choosing a path that does not lead down the aisle, unmarried couples do have a different set of needs when it comes to protecting against financial losses that might follow the unexpected death of one partner.

For those who intend to leave their assets to their partner, it is important to understand that without a comprehensive estate plan, their intended heir could be left completely out of his or her intended inheritance. This is because state law dictates that when an individual dies without a will, probate laws specify the manner in which assets are passed down. The laws of intestacy follow blood lines within the structure of the family.

In this way, a couple who have spent years together building their lives and saving for the future risk significant losses in the event of an unexpected death. Should one partner die before a will is drafted, the other could be displaced out of the home and could be cut out of any intended inheritance, including savings, investments and retirement funding. Those assets could end up going to an estranged family member.

No one likes to think about a future in which a loved one is lost, but the reality is that none of us know when our time will come. By taking the time to create an estate planning package now, unmarried couples can ensure that their needs are taken care of and that a sudden death will not be compounded by financial loss. Ohio law provides a measure of protection for married couples, but families who choose to live outside of the structure of marriage must take additional steps to safeguard their financial futures.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples“, Alexandra Smyser, Sept. 10, 2015