Women And Money: 9 Strategies For Unmarried Partners

image of a familyMany times I’ve had unmarried partners (usually of the same sex) tell me that they were concerned that when a partner died his or her family would “come out of the woodwork” and challenge the estate to claim benefits.

On those occasions it is very important to avoid probate. It may also be advisable to include what is now known as a “Sinatra” clause, after Frank Sinatra who included one in his will. The Sinatra Clause specifies that anyone who challenges the provisions of the will, any trust that the decedent established or the administration of the estate forfeits any benefits that person would have otherwise received.

Frequently a will or trust will mandate that a bequest will be given to a child and if the child is not living then to that child’s children. When the Sinatra clause is included I think it is important to also make sure that the challenging child beneficiary and his children are excluded too. Otherwise the child beneficiary may launch a fight, be dropped from the benefits list because of the Sinatra clause, only to have his children receive the benefits (getting in “the back door”).

I have also decided – from years of experience – that if a decision is made to employ the Sinatra clause, it’s a good idea to leave the person who is going to be disinherited something that they consider worthwhile so that the decision to fight or not to fight is made after deliberation – not because of spite.

If there is something you can offer that the person would regret losing, they will usually think twice before a fight.


  1. Have you executed a health care proxy? Is a successor named?
  2. Have you executed a durable power of attorney? Is a successor named?
  3. Have you thought about drafting a “living together” agreement?
  4. Have you executed a Will? And, if appropriate a living trust?
  5. Have you reviewed with your advisors the tax consequences of leaving your assets to your partner? Have you reviewed with your advisors the tax consequences of your receipt of assets your partner intends to leave you?
  6. Have you explored long term care insurance?
  7. Do you know what assets you will be able to access if your significant other becomes disabled or incapacitated?
  8. What about your debt – have you both reviewed how that will be handled at the first death?
  9. Have you both made funeral and burial arrangements and put them in writing?


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently released an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit, http://www.patriciaannino.com.

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