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Caring For Generations

Estate Planning for Nearlyweds

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Directives, estate and tax planning, Estate Planning, estate planning documents

“The most recent additions to the English language come from just about everywhere, spanning the multiverse-like complexity of modern life,” Nick Norlen, Senior Editor of writes. One of those newly coined English language words is “nearlywed”, describing a person who lives with another in a life partnership with no wedding planned. There are a lot of nearlyweds; in fact, the number of unmarried couples in the U.S. is close to twenty million 

.”Whether married or unmarried, couples should have documents in place that establish and protect their preferences for important decisions,” City National Bank cautions. “You need to have some documents in place that will put appropriate people in charge to manage your health care and financial decisions if you become incapacitated or after you pass away.” 

At Geyer Law, we certainly agree. Many of the laws governing married couples simply don’t apply to nearlyweds, including rules about:

  • property ownership

(The laws generally treat nearlyweds as separate individuals with no rights or responsibilities if the relationship ends or if one member of the couple dies. Even if property is owned jointly, it becomes complex to “split up” a car or a house.

  • breaking up

Legally, cohabiting couples have no financial responsibility to one another if they separate. If there are children, an unmarried parent can’t claim spousal support.

  • medical decisions

Each nearlywed will need special written permission in the form of a Health Care Directive  before being able to make medical  decisions for a partner..

  • taxes:

Each nearlywed must file an individual tax return. While married partners can make unlimited gifts of cash or property to each other, nearlyweds must stay within the annual exclusion or use up a part of their lifetime gift and estate exclusion if the amount they give annually exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion. When one partner dies, having named the other as IRA or 401(k) beneficiary, the surviving partner will have to begin taking distributions from the IRA or 401(k) beginning the tax year after death, and must withdraw all funds in the account within ten (10) tax years after death in most circumstances.

In the state of Indiana, nearlyweds may choose to enter into a cohabitation agreement, a contract between the partners covering matters such as:

  • property division
  • child custody
  • healthcare decisions

At Geyer Law, there is one thing we estate planning attorneys know for sure – whether they are married or nearlyweds, whether same-sex or of opposite  — no couple is the same. Our goal – help them prepare for their future.,,

– by Kristina Shover, Associate Attorney with Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates