This morning I was at a meeting with other professionals and attorneys. The subject of estate planning for unmarried couples was raised. It should be noted that estate planning for unmarried couples raises opportunities and problems. The first problem arises when an unmarried or same sex couple has assets, which border the amount allowed by the federal estate tax. Currently, in 2010, the federal estate tax has no limit, which means that a person can decease with $3 million in assets in their estate and pay no federal estate tax. The annual amount of gift taxes, which avoid gift taxation is $1 million. With married couples, AB trust are common, which enable an estate planning attorney to shelter each married spouse's estate from federal estate taxation. In 2011, this amount will return to $1 million per spouse, which means most married couples can shelter around $2 million dollars if structured correctly prior to the federal estate tax being an issue. For unmarried couples, advanced planning is critical because otherwise, unmarried couples face a maximum estate tax in 2011 in the amount of fifty-five (55) percent. Thus, unmarried couples and same-sex couples face an urgent need to properly plan their estates. Furthermore, unmarried couples must pre-plan their estates because their family members will likely inherit their assets without a properly drafted will or living trust. For unmarried couples, a will is not a good option simply because of the liklihood of an estate or will challenge. With a will, an heir must go through probate court and pay excessive attorney's fees and costs prior to inheriting the deceased person's assets. With a living trust, one can avoid the complexity and costs of probate court. A properly prepared living trust is a private document and avoids probate court. For unmarried couples, this is a cost-savings and a reduction in possibly litigation expenses and headaches. For example, I currently represent an estate of a gay partner who had the title of a condo in his personal name. Upon his death, his partner had to face the death of his partner and had to move because his partner had no legal right to their shared condo. Therefore, a living trust could have avoided this situation.
The word of advice is simple. Estate planning is critical for same-sex partners and unwed partners. Estate planning is a necessary evil and is simple with the proper attorney. At the Robertson Law Group, LLC, we are non-judgmental and work with unwed couples and same-sex partners in designing a customized estate and asset protection plan.
Robertson Law Group, LLC can be reached at 312-498-6080 or 630-364-2318 or RobertsonLawGroup@gmail.com. Check out our website at www.RobertsonLawGroup.com.
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