Estate Planning for Same Sex & Unmarried Couples: Designated Beneficiary Agreements

Designated Beneficiary Agreements were created in Colorado in 2009 under the Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act. What a Designated Beneficiary Agreement does is allow two unmarried people to give to each other certain legal rights, benefits, and protections that they wouldn’t otherwise have without being married. That’s why they are perfect for same sex and unmarried couples; you get many of the (legal) benefits of being married without having to actually get married. Specifically, the Designated Beneficiary Agreement can provide 16 rights or protections pertaining to:

  1. Real and personal property;
  2. Trusts;
  3. Recognition as a beneficiary and dependent in a retirement or pension plan
  4. Life insurance;
  5. Health insurance;
  6. Petitions for priority of appointment as a conservator, guardian, or personal representative;
  7. Visitation rights in health care facilities;
  8. Filing complaints on behalf of a nursing home patient;
  9. Acting as a proxy decision-maker for medical and surgical treatment;
  10. Receiving notice of withholding/withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures;
  11. Challenge the validity of a declaration as to medial or surgical treatment;
  12. Inheritance issues;
  13. Workers’ compensation;
  14. Suing for wrongful death;
  15. Anatomical gifts; and
  16. Disposition of last remains.

Unfortunately, a Designated Beneficiary Agreement won’t give an unmarried couple all of the same rights as a married couple. For example, you still won’t be able to file a joint income tax return.

Other legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and living wills will override the Designated Beneficiary Agreement if any of the terms are contradictory to it. But wills, powers of attorney, and living wills can also be used to supplement the Designated Beneficiary Agreement and to fill in the gaps that the Designated Beneficiary Agreement may not already cover.

Denver, Colorado estate planning attorney Aiden H. Kramer can help you determine if a Designated Beneficiary Agreement is right for you. Contact Aiden Kramer at (720) 379-3425 or [email protected]