Why should you have a basic estate plan in the first place even though you are not legally married? You’ll want your loved ones and partner taken care in case there is an incident. Simply put, you have peace of mind.
In the event of death, disability and unforeseen circumstances, unmarried couples should have documents in place to protect themselves. It is important that these documents are prepared and available in case of any eventuality. This is because you and your partner are unmarried, and so details have to be drawn out. Married couples automatically make decisions on behalf of each other; unmarried couples cannot do that automatically.
A will tells your beneficiaries and loved ones what to do with your property. It gives strict instructions in your absence. You can name a personal representative, a guardian and a trustee. Be aware, however, that family members have the option of contesting the will in court.
When preparing a will, you want to think carefully on who gets what. Your estate can go to one person or distributed to multiple people. Part or all of it can also go to charity.
In your will, you can designate someone to be your personal representative. For unmarried couples, this person can be your partner if you wish. The appointed person
- executes the instructions in your will
- takes charge of issues pertaining to assets and liabilities
- distributes your assets following the instructions you have laid down
When drafting your will, you can appoint a guardian for your children and make provisions for care.
Healthcare Directives and Living Will
These are important documents all unmarried couple should have; basically, it gives instructions on who to make critical decisions regarding your health when you are unable to make your own decisions, say, for instance, a scenario where you are in a coma. You will need someone to make decisions on treatment etc. It is also known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare or a healthcare proxy or directive to physicians.
A very important extension of this document is the living will. The living will gives details of what you want in terms of life support; specifically, if you want life-support or not and under what circumstances. This is important to discuss with you partner and to have your wishes written out clearly. This is not a time for guess work.
Financial power of Attorney
Much like the healthcare directives, this document gives your unmarried partner, or anybody you appoint, the right to make financial decisions in your stead.
Mental Health Advance Directive
Just like the healthcare directive, a mental health advance directive is another vital document especially for people with a history or mental health issues. With this document, you can specify what types of treatment you want to go through, which physician you want to treat you, and even which mental institution you prefer.
Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.