A traditional family was once considered a husband, a wife, children, a
dog and a picket fence. However, today the number of non-traditional households
outnumbers traditional households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau
data, in 2010, only 48 percent of American households were husband and
wife couples. Blended families where couples have children from previous
relationships, as well as children from their own relationship or families
with same sex couples are becoming more and more common. It is also common
for the evolving definition of families to include single parent homes,
families with adopted children, grandparents raising grandchildren as
well as numerous other variations.
Since the traditional family structure is changing, it is important to
make sure your estate plan is up to date and drafted in order to protect
your loved ones and ensure that your wishes will be followed. Especially,
if you are in a domestic partnership, whether same sex or opposite sex.
The recent legalization of same sex marriages also has a great impact
on estate planning.
Many committed couples do not get married for a variety of reasons. This
may be a personal choice or Arizona laws that used to prevent same sex
couples in a committed relationship from marrying. In the state of Arizona,
common law marriages are not recognized. Meaning, if two people have been
in a relationship for several years and acting as though they are married,
they will not have the same tax and inheritance benefits as married couple
do. Unmarried couples do not enjoy the same legal protections regarding
property rights as married couples. Upon death, married couples have certain
legal presumptions that make it easier to pass property from one spouse
to another, as well as the benefit of a more advantageous tax treatment.
Other challenges include who will care for your children upon passing,
the right to make medical decisions for loved ones and the ability to
make financial decisions in the event of an unmarried partner's incapacity.
It is crucial to review your estate plan on a regular basis because you
never know what state and/or federal law may change that applies to your
Whatever your family situation maybe it is important to be prepared. Please
contact Owens and Perkins to schedule a complimentary ½ hour
consultation regarding your estate plan at 480.630.2464.