Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Speaker: Wendy Goffe, JD 

A growing number of Americans are choosing not to marry. Older adults who have been widowed or previously divorced are deciding to cohabitate instead of marrying. Even same sex couples that can legally marry may decide it’s just not for them.

It is important that our cohabiting clients know what rights they are giving up when choosing not to marry. These rights include Social Security, immigration status, the right to decline to testify against a spouse, joint bankruptcy filing and protection of spousal obligations, surviving spouse benefits, benefits under victim’s compensation funds (i.e. 9/11 victims funds), hospital visitation, and, of course, inheritance benefits including the marital deduction.

Without intentional planning, if one person dies, the survivor is not entitled to any benefits, notice of a probate proceeding, or continuing support that is afforded to legally married spouses.

This presentation will examine these issues and how to help clients plan around them, to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their estates.

Wendy Goffe, JD, has more than 20 years experience advising clients about estate planning, including probate and trust administration, estate and gift taxation, charitable giving, nonprofit trusts and corporations, family-owned business succession, and issues concerning unmarried couples. She is a regular speaker at local, regional, and national events that address a number of estate-planning topics. She also has been interviewed by and written for many national publications. She is a former contributor to, and her articles can be found at


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Continuing Education

This on-demand CE Library item provides 1 hour of continuing education (CE) credit for CIMA/CPWA/CIMC certifications. IMCA is registered with NASBA as a sponsor of continuing professional education.


This video bundle is available for viewing online through November 30, 2017. You must access the presentation before this date.