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Special Issues for those In Committed Relationships
The laws of each State identify the rights of married couples and blood relatives. If you are in a committed relationship and not legally married, you need to take extra steps to protect your partner. Blood relatives, such as parents, children and siblings may have rights to exclude your partner from making health decisions or even visiting you in the hospital! These are some of the life planning and estate planning documents which may help you in addition to Wills and Trusts and other estate planning documents:

  • Partnering and Couples Agreements - The laws of each State establish the privileges, rights and responsibilities for married couples. Lesbian and Gay couples, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples need to define the legal terms of their relationship. Although this requires time and effort, creativity by the couple and their lawyers can help clarify the unique relationship between the couple.

  • Hospital and health care visitation instructions - Unfortunately, hospitals and health care institutions subordinate the rights of the partner to biological relatives such as parents, siblings and children. If you want your partner involved, it should be put in writing!

  • Living Wills and Medical Decisions - A Living Will and Medical Decision Power of Attorney directs health care providers concerning your medical treatment if you are unable to make the decisions. You can designate your partner, or anyone you select, as the Attorney in Fact to make Medical Decisions. This will clarify who makes the decisions.

  • Durable Power of Attorney - A Power of Attorney designates another person to make financial decisions for you. A Durable Power of Attorney stays in effect even if you are not competent. This important tool can enable you to specify your partner, or the person of your choice, to handle you economic affairs.