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“The employer normally follows whoever is the beneficiary designated on the form,” Harris says, “or, if the pension was divided in a divorce, the employer follows the court order.” On the other hand, she says, naming a significant other as a beneficiary on an individual retirement account can backfire, since “if a nonspouse is named, they have to withdraw — and pay income tax — within five years of the death of the original owner.” Nonspouse beneficiaries can circumvent this fate by taking the “stretch” option, which enables them to make withdrawals over their life expectancy.
While a spouse’s assets will be considered in determining Medicaid eligibility, Harris says, a significant other’s will not. “Most medical plans permit a surviving spouse to retain medical coverage after the other’s death,” says Jane Ryan, an attorney based in Sacramento, Calif., whose practice focuses on prenuptial and cohabitation agreements.
In the case of divorce, Harris points out that, as with pension plans, insurance policies are not usually affected by a remarriage.
You’ll be able to get a better idea of how responsibilities will be shared. Living with anyone will test your boundaries and your relationship with that person.
Because let’s just face it, finding out that you’re expected to do all the cooking, cleaning and breadwinning wouldn’t be cool. If you find you can’t live with one another, you definitely shouldn’t marry. Since you’re living together, it’s not like you’d have to hail a cab, rent a room, or sneak around to do it.
You might find out that those cute little habits he has aren’t that cute, or that his idea of how a house should be run don’t mesh with yours. Home issues are major dealbreakers that often don’t come to light until you’re both under the same roof.
You might not be able to predict them, either, and this can lead to you splitting up within the first couple of months.
If one partner owns real estate — including the home the cohabiting couple lives in — “the agreement can include buy-out and right of first refusal provisions,” Ryan says.
“And there should also be provisions covering personal liability issues and debts,” as well as whether or not there will be any “palimony” in the event of a split.
Here’s why you should move in together before you put a ring on your finger: It gives you the full idea of what you’re signing up for.
It never ceases to amaze me how much a person can hide from another person if they aren’t living together.