Modern Families

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The number of non-traditional families in the United States has dramatically increased. A “family” is no longer exclusively defined as a married opposite-sex couple with two naturally born children. There are several types of non-traditional couples. These include unmarried opposite-sex partners, unmarried same-sex partners, and single adults such as friends or siblings living together.

Under Pennsylvania law, the intestacy laws do not provide for unmarried partners. An unmarried partner is not a relative designated in the statute to receive assets in the absence of a Will. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s laws concerning elective share for a surviving spouse protects a spouse from being disinherited. However, such legal protection is not afforded to unmarried persons. Therefore, an unmarried partner of a non-traditional couple must take affirmative action to protect himself or herself from intentional or unintentional acts of the other unmarried partner which could result in him or her being disinherited.

Unmarried partners can obtain many but not all of the same rights established in law that married couples have with regards to inheritance, hospital visitation and medical and financial decision making if they prepare in advance. Properly prepared Wills, advance directives, powers of attorney and Trusts, are essential before a debilitating illness or death. Disability and estate planning concerns remain the same for all committed couples; however, the options, especially as related to reducing tax burdens are different.

The goal of the attorney’s at GENTILE HOROHO & AVALLI, P.C. for the non-traditional couples will be to ensure that the couple’s property will pass to the intended beneficiaries in the most desirable and tax efficient way without challenge.