Estate planning is essential for all couples, yet it is even more so if you are not married. Spouses have more rights in certain areas than unmarried partners. Family members who disapprove of your partner or situation may take advantage of this to put their interests first.
An effective estate plan helps your partner look after you if you cannot speak for yourself due to severe injury or illness. It also enables you to provide for your partner if you die.
A health care power of attorney lets your partner make medical decisions for you
Imagine you have a car crash and need significant medical intervention to save your life. Medical staff need to understand your wishes to know what treatment they can or cannot perform. Yet, you might not be able to communicate your choices.
Your partner understands your wishes because you discussed the subject with them. Yet, if you did not give them the legal authority to speak on your behalf, your parents may step in to make their views known. Children and parents can have very different ideas on medical treatment, especially if one party is more conservative or religious than the other. Giving your partner health care power of attorney makes clear you want them, not your parents, to decide.
Dying without a will could leave your unmarried partner struggling
If someone is your spouse, they automatically become the supposed beneficiary of most assets when you die. It makes it more difficult for family members to cut them out. Things are less sure when you are not married. Without a will, your unmarried partner could find themselves struggling to retain assets that you had previously shared — and they might not be able to direct things like your burial or funeral plans, final resting place, memorial services and more.
A life-threatening accident can happen at any time. The sooner you and your partner take steps to protect each other through your estate plan, the better. An attorney can help you learn more.