Dude, just marry the girl!
While every child has a "father" (it's biology 101) by default, every child deserves to have a "dad" by design.
Statistics (and common sense) confirm that a child who grows up in a traditional two-parent household is more likely to stay out of trouble and grow up to have a better life.
All that noted, what if you do not take Uncle Kyle's advice?
A recent article from New Jersey 101.5 provides some guidance for you in an article titled "Having a baby, but not married? Some financial advice."
The article notes that in many states the rights of unmarried couples are different than those of married couples.
When it comes to a minor child born into such circumstances, child custody issues are the same regardless whether you are married. In fact, courts make decisions based upon the "best interest of the child" standard.
In that case the surviving parent will be the default guardian.
What if both parents die?
That can get tricky indeed, especially if neither had a will appointing a guardian (back up parent).
Do you really want a probate judge (who does not know you and the families involved) making that decision?
In addition to an unforeseen death, you also need to consider what could happen if you and your partner split up.
Did you know that the distribution of property is very different between married and unmarried couples who break up?
Well, it is.
If you are married, almost all property will be distributed equitably and alimony can be awarded.
On the other hand, when unmarried couples split up any individual property is retained by the original owner. Only jointly-owned property, like a home with both names on the deed, is divided between the parties. Further, neither party of an unmarried couple gets alimony, but this may be addressed by an unmarried couple if they sign a Cohabitation Agreement.
Also, the laws in most states treat married and unmarried couples differently if you die without a will.
When you die without a will, you are subject to the intestacy laws of your home state. This means property typically goes to a surviving spouse and surviving children before passing to parents and other relatives.
If you have a will, then you can specify who inherits your assets and how they are inherited.
This is especially important when you have a minor child.
Not so when you are unmarried.
If you hold title to the home you share with your partner and child, then your child inherits the home ... not your partner. This can lead to further legal excitement.
There are also federal and state estate taxes to consider.
If you are not married, planning for the tax-efficient transfer of assets at death (especially important for a high net worth unmarried couple) is tougher than planning for a married couple.
A married couple will not have any estate tax due upon the first death if the estate plan fully utilizes the unlimited marital deduction. However, this deduction does not apply to the survivor of an unmarried couple.
Plus, some states have both an estate tax and an inheritance tax. (Fortunately, this does not include Kansas or Missouri.)
What about making decisions regarding your final wishes?
If you are not married, there will be problems.
Whether the final decisions are regarding your health care, funeral or disposition of your remains, many state laws provide control to a surviving spouse.
If you are not married, then your closest surviving adult family member gets to decide these issues.
That could be a parent or your siblings.
Again, you can simply a lot of your life for yourself and your child ... if you just marry the girl.
Either way, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate these waters whatever you decide.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: New Jersey 101.5 (December 28, 2015) "Having a baby, but not married? Some financial advice"