Most people tend to view estate planning for unmarried couples as not being necessary and something only married couples need to worry about. However, estate planning can be even more critical for those in committed relationships who are unmarried.
Because your relationship with one another may not be legally recognized, if one of you becomes incapacitated or when one of you dies, not having any planning can have disastrous consequences. Your age, income level, and marital status makes no difference—every adult needs to have some fundamental planning strategies in place if you want to keep the people you love out of court and out of conflict.
Last week, I discussed the important of having wills, trusts, and durable power of attorney. Here, we will look at two more must-have estate planning tools, both of which are designed to protect your choices about the type of medical treatment you’d want if tragedy should strike.
3. Health care power of attorney
In addition to naming someone to manage your finances in the event of your incapacity, you also need to name someone who can make health care decisions for you. If you want your partner to have any say in how your health care is handled during your incapacity, you should grant your partner medical power of attorney.
This gives your partner the ability to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. This is particularly important if you are unmarried, seeing that your family could leave your partner totally out of the medical decision-making process, and even deny your him or her the right to visit you in the hospital.
Do not forget to provide your partner with HIPAA authorization within the medical power of attorney, so he or she will have access to your medical records to make educated decisions about your care.
4. Living will
While a health care power of attorney names who can make health care decisions in the event of your incapacity, a living will explains how your care should be handled, particularly at the end of life. If you want your partner to have control over how your end-of-life care is managed, you should name them as your agent in a living will.
A living will explains how you would like important medical decisions made, including if and when you want life support removed, whether you would want hydration and nutrition, and even what kind of food you want and who can visit you.
Without a valid living will, doctors will most likely rely entirely on the decisions of your family or the named health care power of attorney holder when determining what course of treatment to pursue. Without a living will, those choices may not be the choices you—or your partner—would want.
I can help!
If you are involved in a committed relationship—married or not—or you just want to make sure that the people you choose are making your most important life-and-death decisions, consult with me as your Personal Family Lawyer® to put these essential estate planning tools in place.
With my help, I can support you in identifying the best planning strategies for your unique needs and situation. Schedule a no-cost initial consultation today to discuss your options, or fill out an Estate Planning Inventory and Assessment to get started with your estate planning today.