Many couples still choose marriage as a way to profess their love and protect their partner's interests. However, the number of people choosing to say "I do,"  has been steadily declining since the 1980s. While some may point to the increasing rate of divorces, we find that civil unions and domestic partnerships are simply becoming more popular. That said, married and unmarried couples alike should be able to protect their loved ones and their assets should they pass away. With that in mind, today we'll discuss 3 estate planning tips for unmarried couples including how you can dictate where your solely owned property goes upon your death rather than waiting for state laws to step in.

Did You Know?

Without a valid will, North Carolina state law will dictate where your assets go upon your death. Unfortunately, this often means that they won't go to your unmarried partner. Rather, any property you have will be inherited by your closest relatives including any children you may have or your parents.

On a similar note, unmarried couples have no legal standing when it comes to expressing each other's end-of-life medical care unless you've legally appointed them with a valid power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Estate Planning Tips #1 Write a Will to Maintain Control of Your Assets

Rather than let the state decide what happens with your end-of-life care or your assets, write a will so that you can maintain control of those decisions. This allows you to explicitly choose who you leave your property to, whether that be your partner, friends, charitable organization, family, or otherwise.

According to North Carolina State Law, if you choose not to write a will, and you don't have children, anything you leave behind will likely go to your last living relatives, which often includes your parents or siblings.