Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners
Estate planning for unmarried partners can be a complex process, as the legal protections that are automatically afforded to married couples do not apply to unmarried partners. This means that it is important for unmarried partners to take proactive steps to ensure that their wishes for the distribution of their assets and the care of any dependents are carried out in the event of death or incapacitation.
One way for unmarried partners to protect their interests is to execute a variety of legal documents, including:
- A will: A will is a legal document that specifies how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. If you do not have a will, your assets will be distributed according to state laws, which may not align with your wishes.
- A power of attorney: A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, your partner may not have the legal authority to make decisions about your finances or healthcare.
- A living will: A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a document that specifies your wishes for end-of-life medical care. It can be used to instruct your healthcare providers to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
- A domestic partnership agreement: A domestic partnership agreement is a contract between two people who are not married but live together and want to establish their rights and responsibilities to each other. This can include issues such as the ownership of property, financial support, and the care of any dependents.
It is important to note that the specific estate planning options available to you will depend on your individual circumstances and the laws of your state. It is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and that your assets are protected.