Modern couples often include couples who live together, but are unmarried. It has become common for couples to live together before ever deciding to marry. When you have live together, you share many things. You and your partner may also have children. In Massachusetts 33.4 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers.

Just because you aren’t married, doesn’t mean that you don’t want to plan ahead for your family’s future. It is especially important that unmarried couples plan for the unexpected.

If you passed away tomorrow, would your children, your partner’s children and your partner have financial stability? Would they be able to stay in the house that the two of you turned into a home?

What if both you and your partner tragically passed? Would the children that you’ve raised together be split up by relatives? Would relatives argue over who will take care of your children?

The loss of a parent is devastating for a child. If they have to struggle through arguments over who will care for them after they’ve lost a parent it can be worse.

All couples, married or not, should choose a guardian for their children and create an estate plan. A guardianship gives the person you have selected particular rights and obligations regarding your child. This is an important decision that will require a lot of thought. You should also have a discussion with the candidate you choose to make sure they are understanding and willing to take on the role if they need to.

When considering a guardian for your children, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is the most capable of raising my child?
  • Who would honor my parenting style and continue using my methods?
  • Who would be willing to take on the task?
  • Who do I feel most comfortable leaving my children with?
  • Who would be able to devote the necessary time and energy to my children?

You should consider having multiple alternatives as guardians in the event of your passing. It is okay to name a long-term guardian, but also have a legal plan in place for what will happen immediately after a crisis. If you plan to name a couple as guardians, also make a plan for what should happen in case the couple were to split.