Taproot Law

Taproot Law

Human-Centered Legal Advocates

With our roots in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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Cohabitation: estate planning and cohabitation agreements for unmarried couples are more important than you think

Meet Bill and Marilyn: Partners for Life 

Marilyn, who is in her early 70s, was distraught. Her life partner of the last 30 years, Bill, suffered memory loss and was not improving. His son became Bill’s guardian and conservator and just delivered an eviction notice to Marilyn. The son then moved Bill into his home to take over his care. She hasn’t seen him in weeks.

This was really hard to process for Marilyn while experiencing so much loss. In this scenario, I’m guessing that Bill would have wanted Marilyn to be taken care of better. And, while the son seems cold in this situation, I’m also sure he had a million things on his plate and was trying to take charge the best way he knew. 

Public policy in our country still values and protects marriage over any other relationship (This is why people fight and die to gain that status for their relationship). In 1957, Michigan abolished common-law marriage – even furthering its preference that people be legally married to get the default benefits upon death, breakup, or incapacity. This is why it is so important for unmarried people to be clearer with their intentions through estate planning. 

With some estate planning, Bill and Marilyn may have stayed in their home together longer and had a smoother transition to more intensive care for Bill. With powers of attorney, Marilyn could have spent her days of retirement taking care of the person she loved rather than Bill’s son (who was legitimately busy with his own family). By missing early moments of potential collaboration while Bill was competent, Bill’s son got into “survival mode” and created an adversarial relationship with Marilyn by putting her into “survival mode” too. 

Estate planning for unmarried couples

Relationships that function like a marriage and may promote many other important values DO NOT get similar legal benefits upon death, break-up, or incompetency. However, estate planning can be done to provide crucial protections for unmarried partners, and we can help with that! 

Taproot Estate Planning Toolkits and Same Pricing for Married or Unmarried Couples Estate Planning

Unmarried couples and married couples will pay the same for estate planning at Taproot! I just revamped our estate planning toolkits over the weekend, and here are the highlights at each level.  

The basics: In each basic toolkit, Erica works with each client to create (1) an estate PLAN and (2) the basic estate planning TOOLS. Every toolkit includes a will, healthcare power of attorney, and durable power of attorney for business affairs. A trust can be added.  

Estate planning tools rarely accomplish an estate PLAN. Through the plan, I will recommend an overall strategy to accomplish a client’s estate planning goals through non-probate transfers, coordination, and funding. Clients may implement the entire plan on their own or by purchasing a la carte services when it works into the budget. If it’s in the budget now, we recommend our standard estate planning toolkit. 

A standard plan: This toolkit includes everything that is in the basic package PLUS another session to implement the plan for non-probate transfers, coordination, and funding. We will prepare deeds, bill of sale, review beneficiary and pay on death designations, and prepare change of beneficiary and pay on death designations.

Premium planning: This toolkit includes a 45-minute coaching session with the people who will make decisions for you when you can’t AND the professionals you need to get on the same page. Typically, clients invite their accountant, financial advisor, and children to this meeting to facilitate a conversation, capture missing information, and generally get on the same page about what to do if something happened to the client. Other times, financial priorities take more of a backseat in the face of chronic illness or medical crisis. This is your time to start a conversation, get business done, and lower more uncertainties. 

Whether you’re married or unmarried and have estate planning needs, Taproot Law is here for you! Below is a list of our pricing for our estate planning toolkits and you can also learn more about us on our website or schedule a call with Erica by calling 906-284-8426.