Whether or not you live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, it is important that you take action to protect your partner when you pass away. The surviving spouse can face unique challenges that could influence how your estate is ultimately settled and how and where you are laid to rest. Here are two areas you need to take into consideration to ensure your partner has what he or she needs to settle your estate.
Health Care Directives
Regardless of sexual orientation and relationship status, most people need a health care directive. However, in a same-sex couple, it can take on a more significant meaning. In states in which same-sex marriage is not legal or domestic partnership rights are recognized, your partner could possibly be barred from making health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to. Your partner could potentially be barred from seeing you if you are hospitalized.
By having a health care directive that specifically states that your partner is responsible for making health-related decisions for you, you can eliminate any doubts by health care providers and family about your partner's rights. Regardless of your relationship and the state's laws, your partner will have the authority to carry out your wishes.
Financial Power of Attorney
Another area in which your partner might face challenges is when it comes to dealing with your finances. A financial power of attorney can give your partner the authority to manage your finances if you are unable to.
Without the financial power of attorney, your partner could be put in a position to legally fight with your family over your finances. Your partner could end up without the resources needed to pay expenses. The financial power of attorney will allow your partner to make financial decisions, such as paying bills and medical expenses.
The power of attorney can be either durable or limited. A limited would allow your partner financial decision making for a period that you determine. A durable power of attorney would cover the entire period that you are unable to make financial decisions, regardless of how long it lasts.
There are many more considerations that you and your partner need to make to ensure that both of you are covered if something happens to either one of you. Talk to an estate planning attorney (such as Jolein A. Harro, P.C.) to get a proper assessment of your state's laws and how they apply to your situation.
I am a real estate attorney, and I have been helping clients buy and sell property for many years. Some clients do not realize their legal obligations and options when it comes to purchasing or selling a house or land. I hope that this blog will be a way for people to get information about legal issues in real estate and what they need to know when doing business. Buying and selling property can be complicated, and all parties involved have legal obligations. Know what is expected of you, and you will be able to get the best out of your real estate transactions.