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Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Tips for Creating Your Conservation Legacy

While married couples enjoy an unlimited marital deduction against estate and gift taxes, unmarried couples (same-sex couple, siblings, parents and children) face transfer tax issues when creating their estate plans.


Wills, Trusts and Beneficiary Designations

Your estate plan, either through a will or trust, should contain the details of who will receive your assets after your lifetime.  Additionally, be sure to review your life insurance and retirement account beneficiary designations as they can override a will.  Don’t forget to incorporate both your primary and contingency distribution wishes.  Absent such directions, state laws dictate the disposition of your estate. 

It is important to periodically review all your planning documents and beneficiary designations to make sure they are up-to-date, that they work together, and accurately reflect your wishes.  Find ideas on keeping your estate plan in order or tips to update your current estate plan.

Did you know that you can name the Conservancy in your will, as a beneficiary of part of your retirement plan, or even your life insurance? Learn more from one of our gift planners.

We have many resources to help you. View our gift planning printable resources page where you can find information on starting to plan your estate, creating an asset inventory, hiring an attorney to help with estate planning, and more.  Read tips on understanding bequests in the Gift Planning Corner article, "Understanding Bequests."


Planning for Non-Spouse Beneficiaries

Absent the marital deduction, many people have successfully used charitable gift plans as tax efficient means to transfer support to their surviving loved ones.  Charitable planning opportunities such as charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts can be created now or established through your will, helping to minimize and postpone transfer taxes to the greatest extent possible.  Our expert gift planners are experienced in working with donors and their advisors to structure and implement a plan that addresses each unique situation.

Through creative use of the annual exclusion amount ($13,000 in 2012), the wealthier partner can reduce his or her estate while maximizing the amount available to support the survivor.  There are several charitable techniques which take advantage of this concept, and our expert gift planners are available to assist you in finding a gift plan that fits your particular circumstances.


Information That May Interest You ...

The Nature Conservancy relies on bequests--gifts through your will or living trust--from supporters like you to ensure our work can continue into the future. 

If you are interested in supporting the Conservancy, find out how to name The Nature Conservancy in your estate plan

If you have already named the Conservancy in your will, we thank you and ask that you let us know about your plans.  Knowing of your commitment to the Conservancy helps us to plan for our work in the future, and also ensures we can honor your wishes. Plus, naming the Conservancy in your estate plans makes you a member of The Legacy Club.

You can protect marine habitats and other natural places by making a planned gift with The Nature Conservancy. Contact us today.

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