Couples (same-sex or hetrosexual) who are living together, but who are not legally married, have unique estate planning needs. When you are married, the law provides you certain automatic protections. However, without that marriage certificate, you and your loved one are not protected unless you create an estate plan.
If you have an estate plan, you can direct how your assets and property should be transferred upon your death. This can be especially important if you or your loved one have been married before or you have children from a prior relationship. Because an unmarried couple does not have protections under the law, once an estate plan has been created, your loved one should be given a copy of it, be informed of where the original is located and how to access it when it is needed.
In addition to protecting the distribution of your assets, an estate plan can also assist unmarried couples with granting each other the power to make medical and health care decisions for each other. If your unmarried partner becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to make his or her own medical decisions, there are no assurances that the physicians will include you in any medical decisions regarding your loved one because you are not legally a family member. There are many instances where antagonistic family members will purposely exclude you or your partner in these instances. Thus, it is important that you and your partner appoint each other as a medical care proxy or power of attorney. You and your partner may also want to appoint your loved one as a financial power of attorney to handle your money if you should become incapacitated.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.