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Till Death or Divorce: Why You Need to Plan Now for Your Relationship’s End

Whether it’s a breakup, divorce, or the death of a loved one, every relationship eventually will come to an end. It is important to plan for that ending because your planning (or lack of it) will have a real impact on you,  your partner, your children, and your assets. 

The silver lining? While we can't prevent the end, we can prepare for it with a blend of compassion and strategic planning that makes the end the best possible foundation for a new beginning.


Understanding the Intersection of Love and Law

Shared dreams for the future can come with some legal considerations too. For married couples, the law has default provisions in place for what happens to your assets if one of you dies, but those default plans may not align with your personal preferences or the life you’ve built with your partner.

If you’re an unmarried couple, the absence of a plan could leave you vulnerable, risking the loss of assets or the inability to make crucial decisions about your property or your medical choices.

To better understand how a lack of planning can affect you and your partner, let’s look closer at these important areas that are affected when a relationship ends.


1 | Property Ownership 

Let's say you and your partner purchase a home and other assets together. A dispute can arise without clear documentation outlining ownership rights.

If you aren’t married and one of you passes away, the other partner might find themselves without a rightful claim to the property, potentially facing homelessness or a significant financial loss. 

Putting a plan in place can prevent these potential disputes.


2 | Healthcare Decisions

In the unfortunate event of a medical emergency where one partner becomes incapacitated, lacking appropriate legal documentation could impede the other partner's ability to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. This can lead to delays in medical treatment or disagreements among family members over the person’s treatment, causing unnecessary stress and complications during an already challenging time.


3 | Guardianship for Children

For couples with children, failing to establish guardianship arrangements in the event of both parents' incapacity or death can have devastating consequences. Without a designated guardian, children may be placed in the care of individuals who may not align with your wishes or values, leading to potential custody battles and emotional upheaval for the children and your extended family.

If you and your partner end your relationship without coming to a mutual agreement on a guardian for your children, things could get chaotic - especially if one of you has documented your desired guardian and the other partner hasn’t.

Typical wills don’t cover planning for the needs of minor children sufficiently. It’s why we offer the Kids Protection Plan®, specifically designed to prevent your children from being raised, even in the short term, by anyone other than people you know, love and trust, and are not taken from your home, into the care of strangers. 


4 | Business Interests

If you and your partner share business interests or investments, the lack of a solid plan could jeopardize the future of these assets. Without clear instructions, the surviving partner may face challenges in managing or transferring ownership of these assets.


Be Proactive, No Matter What the Future Holds

In each of the scenarios above, the absence of proactive estate planning measures leaves individuals vulnerable to legal and financial uncertainties. By taking proactive steps, couples can safeguard their assets, ensure their wishes are honored, and provide peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.

Not sure how to start the conversation with your partner?

Start by explaining to your partner your desire to safeguard the life you’re building together.  Just as relationships evolve over time, your wishes and how they are documented should too. Continuously engaging in dialogue and revisiting your plans ensures they remain aligned with your evolving needs and aspirations.


Let Us Make It Easy to Plan Ahead

Whether you’ve already started the conversation with your partner or need more guidance, planning for the future of your relationship can feel overwhelming. We can help.

At Rayboun Winegardner, we comprehend the significance of your relationship and are dedicated to ensuring its protection. And whenever (and however) your relationship ends, we can work with you to create a plan that considers these contingencies ahead of time so you and your loved ones can avoid the stress or conflict that comes with incomplete planning.

To learn more about how we approach estate planning from a place of heart, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.



This article is a service of Rayboun Winegardner, PLLC, a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.


The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

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