While not every couple needs every item from the list, each tool enables you to protect your loved one from arduous probate proceedings.

How Estate Planning In California Can Protect Your Partner—and Yourself

When you’re unmarried, a good trust can let you pass on a house, stocks, or funds to your partner with minimal tax penalties. Certain kinds of trusts can also be altered when you’re still alive, enabling you to accommodate major life decisions such as marriage, separation, or new children.

Beneficiary designations and joint ownership arrangements also let you pass assets or real property to a partner outside of probate. However, all tools should be considered within the context of your estate plan, since some can override inheritance requests you’ve made in a will or trust.

Guardianship arrangements and durable power of attorney give your partner the power to make decisions you may be unable to make. If you’re ever hospitalized, granting your partner power of medical attorney allows them to advise health care professionals on the type of treatment that is in your best interest and reflects your personal values.

A Solid Plan Helps You Avoid California Probate

Most importantly, a trust, beneficiary designation, or simple will lets a probate court or estate executor know that you want your partner to inherit certain assets the state would normally accord to a spouse or close relative. If you don’t have an estate plan, California will default to its own legal processes, which may not recognize the important role your unmarried partner plays in your life.

Remember that if you want your unmarried partner to have a portion of your estate, you must create an estate plan. California state law will not protect the surviving partner in the same way it would protect a surviving spouse. An experienced estate planning attorney will consider the status of your estate and the types of assets you own and recommend a unique, custom-built plan to help you protect your partner. 



Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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