Daily life as an unmarried couple probably doesn’t look much different than life for those couples who are legally married, but if a sudden and tragic life event happens there are some big differences that can change the life of your partner forever – especially if you are common law. There are a few things you can do, though, with your estate planning to protect your partner, in the event, you pass away. Making sure your estate is in order is important for anyone, and here are some tips about planning your estate to make sure your partner is taken care of.
Write a Will.
Making sure you have a will that is clear on how you want your final wishes to be carried out can save a lot of frustration for your common law spouse. The will specifically names an executor to carry out your final wishes after you pass away, and the will also outline what those final are. You can dictate exactly how your assets and property will be transferred, and who they will be transferred to.
You will want to make sure you have a lawyer prepare the will so you know it is following the current laws and that it will be notarized (i.e. valid) at the time it’s needed. This small act can save a lot of emotional distress for your spouse.
Property by Joint Tenancy
Another way to make sure your spouse is taken care of when you pass away is to hold title to property by joint tenancy. This sounds really complicated but it’s not. It simply means that you both have your name on the title to a property – like a house. If this happens, the survivor will automatically inherit complete ownership of the property when the other person passes away. This happens outside of a will, so your spouse will not need to worry about probate fees or taxes. Make sure you speak to your lawyer about this option before you do it to make sure that this is the right option for you.
Beneficiary Designation Forms
When you fill out forms for things like RRSPs, TFSAs, pensions, and insurance policies you will be asked to designate a beneficiary. These are legally binding documents, so if anything happens to you and the benefit needs to be paid out it will go to the person you choose. It doesn’t matter who this person is, or the relationship to you, you can select where your money goes. You should check, of course, to make sure whether your decision is revocable – just in case – so that the forms truly represent your current wishes.
If you have a common law spouse, it is important to remember that the law currently does not treat your relationship and estate matters the same way that it treats that of a married couple. And until the law changes, unmarried couples will need to go the extra mile to ensure that their common law spouse is protected in the event of one partner’s death. Following these simple tips are ways that you can ensure your partner is taken care of.
If you are in a common law relationship and would like to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of your death, then proper estate planning is key. Contact Mithailitchenko Law Office today to make an appointment with one of our lawyers.