Sometimes couples decide it is best not to entangle themselves legally and financially. One person may have poor finances that would negatively affect the other person when applying for a loan, especially a mortgage. Similarly, one partner’s poor health or terrible driving history could affect the other person’s ability to get insurance at a reasonable price. Older couples from prior marriages who already have children may also choose not to marry to prevent their estates from getting tied up together.

CNBC reports that 18 million U.S. couples live together but are not married. This is especially common among older adults. However, this does not mean that they do not want their partners to inherit anything upon their passing. In fact, many of these people have children together and otherwise act as a married couple.

There are some basics couples can cover to make preparations for their partners to inherit or even care for non-biological children:

  • Naming a guardian for dependents that takes effect upon passing
  • Adding the partner as a named beneficiary on accounts whenever possible
  • Holding banks accounts and investments together whenever possible
  • Inclusion of joint ownership with rights of survivorship on the deed
  • Creating a trust

CNN cautions people to consider what happens if they die intestate. In these cases, the state decides who becomes entitled to the estate. Unmarried partners are rarely ever considered as a beneficiary. Family members may also not honor personal wishes from the deceased to pass certain assets on to the individual. This is why formally detailing who gets what becomes so important.