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The Plain English Attorney

The Domestic Partnership Property Agreement has many elements of a standard pre-marital contract, but it has very different purposes.

A pre-marital agreement attempts to keep property separate and avoids “co-mingling” assets in case there is a divorce. The Domestic Partnership Property Agreement keeps assets separate on paper because truly co-mingling assets could lead to negative gift tax consequences. Married couples are allowed to transfer as much property between each other as they wish, but unmarried people are limited to giving $14,000 per year.

A purpose of marriage is to legally bind two people together, giving both of them certain rights and duties. Some of these responsibilities include a duty to support each other financially, mutually make a home, and care for each other’s health and well-being. Some of the rights are for a partner to get support in times of need and to be taken care of during times of ill health.

In a marriage, these rights and responsibilities come to a couple in whole when a marriage certificate is signed and witnessed by a judge or other legal authority. In the case of unmarried couples, these rights and duties must be spelled out in a written agreement, called the Civil Partnership Agreement, signed by both parties and notarized. Other couples may not want all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, and these limited aspects of your legal relationship should also be put into writing. Our firm also requires witnesses so that there can be no doubt that the contract was signed and understood by both partners.

When enacted in conjunction with the Powers of Attorney, the Revocable Living Trust and the Will, the Civil Partnership Agreement is a powerful contract giving specific couples not only the rights and responsibilities of a marriage they wish and leaving out those they don’t, but also the legal authority to carry out these responsibilities.

If you would like our firm to assist you with a comprehensive Domestic Partnership Property Agreement and other estate planning needs, then please contact our office at (919) 844-7993.

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