Estate planning is essential for everyone, especially individuals in registered and unregistered domestic partnerships. Our attorneys at Baxter Harder, LLC are passionate about the importance of having a clear and thorough estate plan. We’ve put together this information to share why you and your domestic partner should begin estate planning as soon as possible.
What is an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is a foreign concept for many people. In fact, a significant percentage of adults do not have any type of estate plan in place. However, it’s crucial that you understand what an estate plan is so you can begin contemplating what should be included within your personal plan.
An estate plan is a collection of documents and instructions that will be used upon your passing or in the event that you are incapacitated. This includes items such as:
- Your will: This document details how you want your estate distributed to your beneficiaries.
- Your trust: This document has the same essential role as a will, but may be settled quicker or reduce estate taxes.
- Your powers of attorney: Your healthcare and financial powers of attorney are named in your estate plan. These are the people who can act on your behalf regarding medical and financial decisions.
- Insurance information: Paperwork with important policy information for your life insurance, car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, etc.
- Digital information: All necessary log-ins for digital accounts should be listed in your estate plan so your executor or beneficiaries can access your information as needed.
- Funeral instructions: You may include your final wishes for your burial and funeral services in your estate plan.
By including all of this information in your estate plan, your loved ones will not have to stress or wonder about what to do after your passing. All information and instructions will be clearly described and provided to them.
Estate Planning for Domestic Partners
Estate planning is particularly important for domestic partners. “Registered” domestic partners should be sure to list their partner in all applicable documents. State intestacy laws recognize registered domestic partners. This means that if their partner is to pass away without a will, they would automatically inherit their partner’s estate. However, this can often be a complicated process. The safest and most surefire way to ensure your estate is passed on to your partner as you wish is to write a detailed and legally-binding estate plan.
“Unregistered” domestic partners can run into serious trouble should their partner pass away without an estate plan. Unregistered domestic partners are those who meet the criteria for a registered domestic partnership but have not legally declared their relationship. In these instances, should one partner pass away, the other is not automatically entitled to any of their property or assets. This can be incredibly frustrating for those who share a life together, but are not guaranteed any right to their partner’s estate. Luckily, this situation can be avoided with a thorough estate plan.
“Unregistered” domestic partners also benefit from having an estate plan while both parties are living. As previously noted, estate plans include instructions for powers of attorney. Unregistered domestic partners should have their partner listed as their healthcare and financial power of attorney. This way, their partner can make important medical or financial decisions for them if need be. Otherwise, that responsibility may be granted to another immediate family member.
Why You Should Start Estate Planning Today
Regardless of your relationship status, estate planning has numerous benefits. Estate planning allows you the ability to make personalized decisions about your estate. Choosing how to want your assets distributed, to whom, and other important details are all up to you.
Ready To Begin? Our Attorneys Can Help
Some people avoid estate planning because it is uncomfortable to think about. Others avoid it because it seems too complex. Some even avoid it because they do not feel they have enough assets to warrant estate planning. No matter what has held you back, our team at Baxter Harder, LLC encourages everyone to draft an estate plan and we are here to help make the process as stress-free as possible. Click here to contact our estate planning attorneys today.
Do you have additional questions about domestic partnerships in Oregon? Our team can assist with those, too. Whether you wish to enter a registered domestic partnership or have questions about your unregistered domestic partnership, we can help.