The global pandemic has made many people realize the need to protect their loved ones if the unexpected happens. Unmarried couples who are living together have different coronavirus estate planning needs than married couples. If you live together but are not married, you are not legally afforded the same rights as a married couple. Some couples who live together have no plans to marry, while others have had their wedding plans postponed due to the pandemic. Couples who live together but are not married during the pandemic need to take steps to legally protect themselves. To protect themselves, unmarried couples can take steps to legally protect each other in the event one of them becomes ill, or should pass away.
1. Advance Directive and Health Care Proxy
If you become incapacitated, who do you trust to make your health care decisions? If you don’t have a spouse, who do you want to make medical decisions on your behalf? If you don’t appoint a health care proxy, the courts will assign someone to make your medical decisions – and it may not be a person your trust. A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a durable power of attorney, a legal device that allows one person to indefinitely make decisions on behalf of another.
2. Wills and Trusts
Do you own a home together, have you co-purchased cars or other property? If a couple is not married and there is no will or trust in place to designate beneficiaries, Illinois intestate laws go into effect and the court will determine who inherits your partner’s belongings. If you die without a will in Illinois, your assets will be transferred according to the state’s “intestate succession” laws. Who inherits what will depend on whether or not you have a living spouse, children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. Intestacy laws divide a person’s property based on the family relationships that are in existence at the time of their death. Wills and trusts can be set up to ensure that if your partner dies, the assets you share together are passed to you, and not to your partner’s parents or siblings.
3. Power of Attorney
If you are single but with a life partner, who do you trust to make financial decisions? Who do you trust to pay the bills and take care of your finances if you become incapacitated? A durable power of attorney is used to allow the designated person to handle affairs in a certain area of the principal’s life, such as in financial matters.
4. A Living Will
A living will is a document that expresses your final wishes to your healthcare providers and family as they relate to your continued healthcare and any life-sustaining measures. Whether married or unmarried this useful tool can give guidance to your medical power of attorney.
The pandemic has made all of us think about our future and how to protect our loved ones. If you have questions about protecting your partner if something should happen to one of you, contact an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance and to explain the laws in your state.
Unmarried couples have unique concerns in estate planning during the coronavirus crisis that married couples do not have. Prepare for the future by contacting an experienced estate planning attorney at Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard Illinois at 630-864-5835.