If you’re married, you automatically receive certain rights when it comes to estate planning. For example, even if you have failed to draw up a will or make other arrangements for your property, your spouse will be a primary beneficiary of your estate. Similarly, your spouse will be able to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If you’re in an unmarried couple, though, no such rights automatically adhere. That’s why estate planning is so important for unmarried couples, especially when it comes to the durable power of attorney and other healthcare directives.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney and Why Do I Need One?
A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to name someone who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. Once you’ve signed this document, if you should become incapacitated or otherwise too ill to make your own choices when it comes to medical decisions, your named agent will assume these powers. Among the duties that your agent will be able to make on your behalf include admitting you or discharging you from a hospital or nursing home, deciding what medication or treatment you will receive, and controlling access to your medical records. The agent can only act according to your written wishes, so it is important to be as specific and comprehensive as possible when you draw up your document.
If you become incapacitated and do not have a durable power of attorney or another advanced directive such as a living will or healthcare proxy, then the court will appoint someone who will hold the legal power to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If you are married, that person will be your spouse, but if you are not, it could be a child, a relative, or a close friend. While the court may recognize your partner in this capacity, there is no guarantee they will do so. Therefore, if you are not married but are in a committed relationship, it is essential that you draw up a durable power of attorney to prevent an extremely difficult situation where your partner will not be able to make decisions on your behalf.
Contact the Elder Law Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center
If you have any questions about drafting a durable power of attorney or about your rights as part of an unmarried couple, do not hesitate to reach out to the estate planning attorneys at the Deliberato Law Center. We have many years of experience working with clients to ensure the best possible outcome when it comes to estate planning. Give us a call at 216-341-3413 or fill out the form below to get started.