Having an estate plan is more important than you might expect when you are unmarried. Being a legal spouse provides certain powers and rights that are not present when single. However, you can use estate planning to cover things when a partner is ill or dies. Read on and find out more.
Estate Planning Covers More
Some make the mistake of confining estate planning to what happens after a death of a loved one. However, several estate planning moves apply to situations that occur before a death. For example, a common estate planning document is a power of attorney. This document assigns someone with the power to oversee financial and business affairs. Whether you are out of the country or incapacitated from an illness, a power of attorney passes along the power to keep your finances straight to your partner.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney
When it comes to end-of-life decisions, consider a healthcare power of attorney. Unlike a financial power of attorney, this type of provision covers the power to make important healthcare decisions when a partner is ill, either physically or mentally.
An alternative to the healthcare power of attorney is the living will or healthcare directive. This document takes the partner out of things and that can be a blessing in some cases. This document is prepared while a partner is healthy and has the full use of their mental faculties. It directs healthcare providers about when to remove life-prolonging equipment. This directive relieves loved ones of being the ones to make these tough decisions.
Home and Deed Issues
Married couples have certain rights when one passes away without leaving a will. In most cases, a living spouse cannot be removed from homeownership. If there are adult children, the home may be divided between the spouse and the children. In many states, a will that deprives a spouse of the home can be ruled invalid.
Unfortunately, an unmarried partner has no such protections no matter how long the relationship might have been going on (and common law marriages are not recognized in many states any longer). However, it's amazingly simple to construct a deed that adds a partner to it. Unless there is a lawful, living spouse, the home will be owned by the surviving partner.
Being able to have your partner be the one who inherits your estate, makes important financial and healthcare decisions, and who can remain in the family home is important.
Speak to an estate planning law firm and learn about these protective actions and more.