Many situations exist where people are living together without the benefits of a legal marriage under the law, and in such cases the use of Trusts and Wills can be an important tool to reduce costs, taxes, transfer assets, and to enable one party to effectively care for the other under adverse circumstances.
Many situations fall under the cohabitation category including: siblings living together for mutual benefit and support; dating couples; unmarried life-partners; persons living together where one person is helping to take care of the needs of another (caretaker), such as a child taking care of a parent or in the case of disability, health concerns, or other life circumstances where marriage is not an option or is not desired.
In these cases, Wills and Trusts and other legal documentation can provide benefits for the parties regarding medical decisions (Living Will or Advanced Directive), administration of financial affairs and benefits, as well as providing for wealth transfer in the case of incapacity or death.
Married couples are afforded greater legal rights of inheritance and greater access to Federal and State Exemptions than other types of relationships. Married individuals can transfer an unlimited value of estate assets upon the death of the other partner without the need for Probate and without having to pay inheritance and other taxes. A Will can be a low-cost and effective solution for the transfer of estate assets. A Trust may be a better solution for married couples who want to transfer or gift their estate to their heirs or beneficiaries over time, and to minimize the probate and estate administration costs and associated delays.
Elderly people sometimes live together for mutual benefit without marriage. Such cases may involve elderly siblings, friends, or a child or other younger person caring for an elderly individual. Medical concerns, mental or physical disability, financial concerns, or other circumstances may lead to these types of living arrangements. Trusts and Wills are of particular benefit so that one person can manage the financial, inheritance, medical and other concerns for the other party.