You would rather commit personally than involve the state or a church in your relationship. Maybe you have never believed in the institution of marriage because your parents stubbornly remained married despite hating each other. Perhaps your partner had a prior marriage and does not want a legal commitment.
If you intend to spend years of your life with someone but you aren’t going to marry them, you need to be careful about how you own property. You also need to think carefully about estate planning. Otherwise, if one of you dies unexpectedly, the other could be left in a precarious position.
Friends and romantic partners do not have inheritance rights
When someone dies without a will in New York, there are state laws about how to handle their property. Although you might think that the people closest to you would be the ones to inherit your assets, the state does not take any personal relationships into consideration.
Instead, only legal family members will have inheritance rights. If you did not marry your partner and you do not have children, then your parents will be first in line to inherit your property. They could take even the home where you live with your partner, leaving them with nothing. If you don’t have immediate family, it could be the state of New York that ultimately lays claim to your most valuable assets.
Joint ownership and estate planning protect the people you love
There are ways for you to make changes now that will protect the inheritance rights of your closest friends or non-spousal romantic partners.
You can execute deeds to add them to the title of your property or make them the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. You can also create a comprehensive estate plan that needs them as your primary beneficiary and allocate your most valuable assets to them. In scenarios where you would like to provide someone with a place to live and support but would prefer that the property ultimately pass to your children, a trust could be a good solution.
Understanding how your unique relationship circumstances could affect the other person will help you create an estate plan that addresses your wishes and their security.