Unmarried Couples and Inheritance Laws in Nevada According to a Probate Lawyer
Couples choose to forego marriage for a number of reasons. If you are one of those couples, you may be wondering how to protect yourself and your partner. There are a few routes you can go. You can create a will and look into community property. A probate lawyer helps the executor of a will or beneficiary of an estate with the probate process. An asset protection lawyer can help you decide the options you have to protect yourself as a couple.
Guidance From a Probate Lawyer Regarding Inheritance Laws for Unmarried Individuals
Dying unmarried in Nevada means that community and separate property don’t need to be separated, but it can mean your next of kin may need a probate lawyer. If you have children, they will inherit your estate equally. If you don’t have children, but you have parents, they will inherit your estate. If your parents are dead, your siblings will inherit your estate.
Basically, your estate will go to your living relative that is closest to you. In the case that you don’t have living relatives, the state of Nevada will inherit your estate. These scenarios will only occur in the absence of a valid will. This is because the will always takes precedence over the succession laws of the state.
Probate vs. Non-Probate Inheritances
If the decedent has an estate that is less than $25,000, it may not be necessary to initiate probate proceedings in Probate Court. Instead, the person who has a right to the estate of the decedent, either by intestacy or a will, can fill out, sign, and have notarized a “Small Estate Affidavit”. For example, if the deceased is unmarried and has $10,000 in his bank account, his daughter can use this affidavit to claim the money in the bank account.
There are other assets that don’t need to go through probate. Life insurance policies and properties in living trusts don’t need to go through probate. Retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s, and any accounts that are payable or transferable-upon-death also don’t need to. Any property that is jointly owned is also exempted from Probate Court.
Community Property and Unmarried Couples
In 1984, Nevada made it possible for unmarried couples, if they have mutually agreed, to apply community property law to the property they have acquired. This only can occur if the couple explicitly as well as implicitly agree to treat the property they hold together like a married couple. This can be done by a contract.
The purpose of community property was to prevent one person in the relationship from taking off with the acquisitions that belong to both people in the relationship after deciding to break up. Over time, community property has been used for couples who wish to buy property together before their marriage or after they have divorced. It can also be used by couples who have no intention of ever getting married.
The property doesn’t need to be equally owned. In the event that the relationship ends, the property belongs to the individuals involved correspondingly with the contribution each provided to acquire the property. Basically, they can own the property equally or they own a portion based on what they have contributed. This can occur regardless of the title being in both or one person’s name.
If both names of the couple are not on the title of the property, there has to evidence of clear intent to own the asset jointly. Proof of the couple putting together their resources to acquire property can be proof that the property is jointly owned. If that’s not the case, the monetary contributions of each individual can be considered in regards to who owns the property.
In cases where couples believed they were married but were not (possibly because of failing to dissolve a previous marriage), the property that these couples gained are divided as if they were married. However, it is not possible for the individuals to request alimony.
Inheritance for Unmarried Couples
Deciding not to get married means you opt-out of certain rights that a couple automatically receives once they get married. Most of these rights you can get through a well-drafted contract. These rights include visiting your partner in the hospital and making medical decisions for them. There is also the right to jointly own assets as community property. However, if you are not married, you do not have a right to inherit your partner’s property if there isn’t a will.
The Wrap Up
Inheritance laws for an unmarried couple are pretty straightforward. Basically, if you are unmarried, you cannot receive an inheritance from your partner after their death unless they have a will. You can protect yourself and your partner through community property and through wills. Talking to an attorney about preparing the proper contracts and documents is so important. They can make sure that in the event of one of you dying, you or your partner are protected.