Court Bonds

Unmarried Life Partners? Estate Plan!



While keeping affairs organized is important for all adults, life partners who do not marry need to be especially careful. Without an estate plan, asset distribution is subject to state laws of intestacy, which by and large predate modern family arrangements. With diligent planning, partners can lookout for the well-being of each other.


Intentions: Self and Others

Even before attending to asset planning, it’s wise to designate a power of attorney, trusted to make decisions in the event of a capacity decline:


Power of attorney (POA) grants someone the authority to manage your financial and/or medical affairs if you become incapacitated. A medical POA agent manages your healthcare, a financial POA manages your finances, and a general POA manages both. Your POA agent should be someone you can trust to be responsible and keep your best interests in mind, so your partner is likely a good candidate.


Another smart and relatively easy step into estate planning is to check on and update the beneficiary designations of all accounts: “Your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policy should all have a designated beneficiary. If you want your partner to inherit those assets, make sure to name them as the beneficiary. The beneficiary designations on these accounts override a will, so they are typically non-probate assets.”


When it comes to major, titled assets, like homes or vehicles, setting up joint tenancy 

can also be particularly strategic for unmarried partners: “Unlike community property, if one of you passes away, the other will automatically inherit any property held in joint tenancy. This will also help you avoid probate, even if you don’t have a will or a trust. You and your partner will need to put both of your names on the asset’s title document, such as the deed to your house.”


Establish A Revocable Trust

Once arrangements have been made for power of attorney, beneficiaries are designated on all accounts, and joint tenancy put in place for titled assets, it’s time to anchor the estate plan, and this is where trusts can really come in handy. As the names imply, revocable and irrevocable trusts have different purposes, so it’s a good idea to understand how each could be helpful, depending on the circumstances. Given their flexibility, revocable trusts are most commonly used. Also referred to as living trusts, revocable trusts can indeed be a very practical and useful tool in estate planning:


A revocable or “living” trust holds ownership of your assets after your death and dictates how you wish them to be distributed. Because the trust legally owns the assets, instead of you as an individual, this strategy offers many benefits. For example:


  • The assets held in a trust avoid probate and are not public records—wills, on the other hand, are public and must go through probate to be validated.


  • With a living trust, you can avoid probate. This means your partner and other beneficiaries will be able to have immediate access to their inheritance.


  • Living trusts are flexible, allowing you to access the assets and modify the trust at any point during your lifetime. And after you pass away, the trust becomes irrevocable, which means it cannot be changed by anyone.


When a trust is established, it’s a good idea to also put a pour-over will in place. Essentially, “a pour-over will is a type of failsafe that works in conjunction with a living trust. It states that any assets not placed into the trust…will immediately be transferred to the trust upon your death, so they can avoid probate … .You will need to name an executor to manage your estate and you will need to make sure it is signed and witnessed according to the law.”


Remember, once an estate plan is set up, it needs to be periodically reviewed and experts recommend doing so, thoroughly, every 3-5 years, making adjustments in correspondence with life’s twists and turns. In addition to major life events, such as births, adoptions or deaths in the family, keep in mind other occurrences that may necessitate changes to asset allocations in the estate plan, such as:


  • Purchasing a home or other large asset
  • Borrowing a large amount of money or taking on liability for any other reason
  • Large increases or decreases in the value of assets, such as investments
  • Changes in federal or state laws covering taxes and investments
  • Career changes, such as a new job, promotion, or if you start or close a business

Designate Fiduciaries

A critical step when making and updating estate plans, is the designation of one or more loved ones, friends or professionals who are prepared to serve in a fiduciary capacity as they carry out the goals specified in our plans. Depending on the circumstances and region, a fiduciary may be specifically referred to as an executor, personal representative, or trustee  Regardless of the details of an estate plan, the appointed fiduciaries have a legal responsibility to honor the plans–and the law. Accordingly, when representatives are designated, fiduciary bonds, often referred to as estate bonds, may be required.


Learn more about estate bonds right here. At Colonial Surety Company, a leading national provider of all types of fiduciary bonds, the steps to obtaining estate bonds are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the law office.


Obtain Estate Bonds Here.


Estate Law Practice?


Colonial Surety is here to help speed things up whenever and wherever a bond is needed. With a few clicks, you’ll arm your clients with exactly the bond specified.


Just log in to The Partnership Account® for Attorneys, choose a bond, send it to your client for payment, then download, e-file or print the bond. Specific obligee requirements? Trust us: Colonial’s a direct bond writer, so our experts are here to ensure the requirements of obligees across the country are properly met.


Our fiduciary bond portfolio includes: administrator, estate, executor, guardian, personal representative, probate, surrogate, trustee, conservator and the list goes on. Our court bond portfolio includes appeal, supersedeas, injunction, replevin, receiver and more.


Speedy, easy bonds court and fiduciary bonds, right here:

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