Estate planning is a necessary process for all individuals, regardless of marital status or the number of assets they have accumulated. The need for an estate plan, however, becomes even more pressing for domestic partners who are not married. For example, if one partner dies without a plan and the other does not want to move out of the house because he or she does not want to let go of the family home, it could result in significant legal disputes. This is why it is important to be informed and prepared when it comes to your estate.
What is an Estate Plan?
When many people think about estate planning, they often think about what will happen to their belongings after they die. However, estate planning is much more than just deciding who will inherit your possessions. It also includes making decisions about your medical care and financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
An estate plan is a legal document that outlines your wishes for how you want your property and assets to be distributed after your death. It can also include instructions for your medical care if you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself.
Creating an estate plan is an important step in ensuring that your wishes are carried out after you die or become incapacitated. Without an estate plan, the court will decide how to distribute your property and assets, which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
If you have a domestic partner, it is especially important to have an estate plan in place. This is because without a legal document outlining your wishes, your partner may not be entitled to any of your property or assets if you die or become incapacitated.
There are many different types of estate plans, and the best one for you will depend on your circumstances. However, all estate plans should include provisions for healthcare and financial decision-making in the event of incapacity, as well as directives for the distribution of property and assets after death.
Why is it Important for Domestic Partners to have an Estate Plan?
When a couple is married, they automatically have certain legal rights and responsibilities to each other. If one spouse dies, the surviving spouse usually inherits all of their property. But if a couple is not married – even if they live together and are in a committed relationship – they do not have any legal relationship with each other. This means that if one partner dies, the other partner will not automatically inherit anything unless there is a legal document in place saying so.
Without an estate plan, domestic partners have no say over what happens to their property or their bodies after death. An estate plan can give peace of mind to both partners by ensuring that their wishes are carried out, no matter what happens.
An estate plan can also be important for financial security. For example, if one partner dies without a will, the surviving partner may have to go through probate court to inherit any property. This can be costly and time-consuming. By having an estate plan in place, you can avoid this stress and expense.
In short, an estate plan is important for any couple – married or not – who wants to protect themselves financially and ensure their wishes are fulfilled after death.
What Type of Estate Planning Documents Should Domestic Partners have?
When domestic partners create an estate plan, they should tailor the documents to fit their unique relationship and needs. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are certain types of documents that all domestic partners should consider including in their estate plan.
One of the most important documents for any couple, regardless of their marital status, is a will. A will allows you to specify how you want your assets to be distributed after death. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state law, which may not reflect your wishes.
A living trust is another important document for domestic partners. A living trust can help you avoid probate and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. You can name a successor trustee to manage the trust after your death.
A financial power of attorney allows you to name someone to manage your finances if you become incapacitated. This is an essential document for all couples, as it can help prevent financial chaos if one partner becomes unable to manage their finances.
An advanced healthcare power of attorney allows you to name someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This is an important document for all couples, as it can ensure that your healthcare wishes are carried out even if you are unable to communicate them yourself. It also details your wishes for end-of-life care. Advanced healthcare directives can include a living will, which specifies the types of medical treatment you do and do not want to receive if you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state. It can also include a do-not-resuscitate order, which instructs medical personnel not to revive you if your heart stops.
It is important to note that domestic partners do not have the same legal rights as married couples. Therefore, it is even more important for domestic partners to have a comprehensive estate plan in place.
Estate planning can be a complicated matter, especially for domestic partnerships which usually do not have similar legal rights as a married couple. AmeriEstate can help you create an estate plan that meets your unique needs.