Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
Although estate planning is important for almost everyone, it’s particularly important for unmarried couples. State laws offer some protections to married couples who fail to do estate planning, such as through intestacy statutes (which state the spouse automatically gets a percentage of the estate when a spouse dies without a will) and guardianship laws. However, couples that do not marry must prepare a few documents if they want to make sure they leave their partner protected.
In general, for unmarried couples, I recommend a will, a power of attorney, and a Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare, which are the same documents I recommend for married couples. The will states where a person’s property is to pass. This will insure that the unmarried partner’s property is protected. The will also provides who the guardian of any minor children of the couple is to be if something should happen to both of them. This can be crucial if there is a situation where the partners are not both the biological or adoptive parents of the children, and the biological parents are no longer in the picture.
The second document I recommend is the power of attorney. In a power of attorney, the signer gives another person the power to sign financial documents on his or her behalf while he or she is still alive. The power can be effective immediately or upon future incapacity. This document is crucial because it will allow the unmarried partner to handle the finances of the other partner if he or she was involved in an accident, developed Alzheimer’s, etc. Finally, I recommend a Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare states who is to make healthcare decisions for an individual if the person can’t do so for themselves. The document also discusses who is to make decisions about the body after death, who gets access to healthcare records under HIPAA privacy laws, who should be appointed guardian in the event the court appoints a guardian for an adult, and life support preferences. This form is critical for an unmarried partner in the event of a healthcare crisis or death.
Although laws offer some built-in protections for married couples that unmarried couples don’t have, by drafting a few documents unmarried couples can make their wishes known. If you are unmarried and need some estate planning, call Sarah White, Marietta estate planning attorney, at 678-453-6490 to learn more.