Are you in a Domestic Partnership?
According to The Free Dictionary, a Domestic Partnership is defined as “a legal or interpersonal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are not joined by marriage nor a civil union.”
Common Law Marriage is not allowed in Kentucky. Many unmarried couples choose to live in a Domestic Partnership. However, there are no provisions under the statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky that will automatically provide for your partner…unless you have proper Estate Planning.
Unfortunately, many individuals in a Domestic Partnership have not created a proper Estate Plan. Since there are no provisions under the statutes, not only will this not provide for the other partner in case of death, (i.e. resulting in the surviving partner being forced to move out of the residence that was formally shared) but it can hold up assets and possessions in Probate from being distributed as there could be disagreements over who owns what items within the house.
With the help of a knowledgeable Attorney, this can be rectified. There are several methods of Estate Planning when it comes to real estate that can help Domestic Partnerships.
If you are in a Domestic Partnership, and would like to own real estate together, Joint Tenancy may work for you. In Joint Tenancy, the property would automatically pass to the other partner in the event of death. This would eliminate probate, and is easy for your attorney to create for you. The drawback, however, is that the first partner to die has no ability to distribute their interest in the real estate to their heirs as their interest in the property ceases at the moment of death.
Tenancy in Common
This is a way for both partners to own property, but not have it pass to the other automatically.
In this form of Estate Planning, each partner has the ability to sell, or bequeath, their portion of the property to anyone they would like. In case of death, the partner’s share can be passed through a Will or Living Trust.
Last Will and Testament
By having a properly executed Last Will and Testament, you are able to provide for your domestic partner. It will require the Will to be probated and supervised by the Court. There were also be delays which are mandated by the statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky before items can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
By creating a Living Trust, you can avoid Probate in the case of death. A Living Trust can also give you ultimate control over assets, and can assure your loved one is taken care of after your death.
There are, of course, other parts of Estate Planning that can be of help to you and a domestic partner, so it would be wise to contact an attorney who is an expert in the subject.
Taking care of these issues now can assure that your partner is taken care of later.