Estate planning tools for unmarried partners are essential. Unless you plan properly, your partner will not receive any of your money or property when you pass away and will be unable to care for you when you most need it. Instead of your partner, your family members will be in charge of your financial and medical decisions and will receive your money and property upon your death. To ensure that you give money, property, and decision-making authority to those you want to have them, your estate planning tool kit must be properly stocked. In particular there are seven important documents you should consider when discussing your plans with an experienced estate planning attorney. Dive into your estate planning tools for unmarried partners below.
Last will and testament:
Revocable living trust:
A revocable living trust (RLT) is a trust you create during your lifetime that can be changed at any time before your incapacity or death. This planning tool enables you to name yourself as the current trustee (the person or entity who manages, invests, and hands out the money and property) and to designate a co-trustee or alternate trustee if you are unable, for whatever reason, to act as trustee. You can allow your partner to manage the trust with you or to step in when you cannot. On the other hand, if you prefer, you can select another trusted individual or professional entity to manage the trust on your behalf.
An RLT allows you to continue enjoying your money and property during your lifetime and to designate what will happen to them upon your death or incapacity. If you are financially contributing to both your and your partner’s day-to-day expenses, an RLT may be an effective way to ensure that your partner can continue to meet any financial obligations regardless of what happens to you. Also, we can include special language in your RLT to make sure that any money or property you leave to your partner is both protected from your partner’s creditors and out of a new significant other’s reach.
If your partner is not the only loved one you would like to provide for, an RLT can provide money and property to your partner for your partner’s lifetime, and any remaining amounts can be given to someone else, such as children from a previous relationship or marriage. Because an RLT can exist for many years, the fact that it will not have to go through probate is a valuable benefit. Instead of having court oversight for decades, depending on the age and health of your partner, these matters can be handled privately by your chosen decision makers.
Financial power of attorney:
Medical power of attorney:
Advance directive or living will:
HIPAA authorization form:
This form allows you to grant specific individuals access to your medical information (e.g., to get a status update on your condition or receive your test results) without giving those individuals the authority to make decisions on your behalf. By providing information to your loved ones, you can help quiet the anxieties and uncertainties that often arise during times of emergency. This document can also help alleviate tensions between your partner as the medical decision maker and the rest of your loved ones. Although only your partner will be making medical decisions, your other loved ones will understand the reasons for those decisions.