A common misconception about estate planning is that you only need to begin planning after you get married. However, in many cases estate planning is even more critical for unmarried couples because even if you’ve been together for decades and act just like a married couple, you likely aren’t viewed as one in the eyes of the law. In the event one of you becomes incapacitated or dies, not having any planning in place can have disastrous consequences.
Last week, we discussed wills, trusts, and durable power of attorney. Here, we’ll 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: Medical power of attorney
Like 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 which gives your partner the ability to make health-care decisions for you if you’re incapacitated and unable to do so yourself.
This is particularly important if you’re 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. Don’t forget to provide your partner with HIPAA authorization within the medical power of attorney, so they will have access to your medical records to make educated decisions about your care.
4: Living will
While medical 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’d 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 medical 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.
We can help
If you’re involved in a committed relationship, married or otherwise, or you just want to make sure that the people you choose are making your most important life-and-death decisions, consult with us as your Personal Family Lawyer® to put these essential estate planning tools in place. With our help, we can support you in identifying the best planning strategies for your unique needs and situation. Contact us today to get started with a Family Wealth Planning Session.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.