Unmarried Couple – Designate Decisionmaker
Many families aren’t traditional, or your relationship isn’t a marriage. If you live in a domestic partnership (as defined by your state), or are an unmarried couple, you may not be allowed to make emergency medical decisions or critical financial decisions for your life partner when they need it most. Consider what would happen should one of you become seriously injured or ill. Your partner may not have the power to request the type of care you would have wanted for yourself. A TrustAttorneyOnline.com estate planning attorney can help ensure you have the right documentation, such as medical directives and power of attorneys, to care for you and your loved ones.
There is some confusion regarding “common law marriages” as most states do NOT recognize common law marriages and the next of kin will have decision-making authority.
Get started by contacting TrustAttorneyOnline.com or one of our attorneys. They are local and able to advise you on the topic of estate planning, asset protection, and trusts within your area.
Medical Directives & Healthcare Directives
These typically consist of a health care declaration and a durable power of attorney. Each state has their own laws governing the proper way to create medical directives, but there are similarities. Many states also have confidential recordation of the health care directive so that emergency responders and hospitals can access your instructions for care and your emergency contact information.
Particularly important for unmarried couples a health care directive will allow you to name someone to direct your medical care should you become incapacitated. Consider that even if your state does recognize unmarried couples or domestic partnerships, if you were to be injured in another state, the law may not recognize your partner’s rights. Having the documentation in the bare minimum allows for you to list your partner to be in charge of your care.
Many estate planning attorneys will begin with a healthcare declaration to ensure that your wishes are followed through. It is essentially a directive from the patient to the doctor and may include treatments you want, and those you do not.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
Given to the person you want to make medical decisions for you in the event of an emergency, the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare covers the unimaginable, allowing them to make a decision not elsewhere covered. They are unable to contradict your healthcare directives but will act on your behalf for any circumstance you never thought could happen.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
Similar to the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, the Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows your designee to make decisions and act on your behalf regarding your finances. In some instances you may want to create a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances Immediate, allowing your partner to make financial decisions for you during your life, the way a married spouse can make those same decisions, in other cases, you may want to limit the power to situations where you are incapacitated.
FALSE: belief that a power of attorney may be used after death
TRUTH: death automatically revokes a power of attorney
RECOMMENDATION: to transfer power following death you must have either a Will or title and power in an entity such as a Trust or Limited Liability Company