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How estate planning protects unmarried partners

If you and your romantic partner have been together for some time and plan to remain together without getting married, you need the protection of an estate plan even more than married couples do. That’s because neither of you benefits from the many legal rights granted to spouses.

For example, if either of you passes away without a will, the other isn’t automatically entitled to any of your assets. The community property provisions of Louisiana law apply only to legally married couples. If one of you becomes incapacitated, the other doesn’t have the right to make decisions for them or even be provided information about their medical condition without codified authority.

Let’s take a look at some critical estate planning tools that will let you protect and care for each other, no matter what the future brings.

A will 

When a person dies without a will, which is known as “dying intestate,” their assets are distributed to family members according to Louisiana law — – specifically to surviving spouses, children, parents and siblings. Since the two of you have no familial relationship, the surviving partner wouldn’t be entitled to anything if their name isn’t on a title or account.

That means your assets could end up going to family members with whom you have no relationship. Meanwhile, your partner could be left with little or nothing.

Powers of attorney (mandates) for health care and finances

Under Louisiana law, powers of attorney (POAs) are called mandates. You can use them to give your partner various authority if you were to be unable to speak or care for yourself due to a serious injury or illness.

For example, you can give them the authority to talk with doctors and direct your medical care. It’s best to give this authority in conjunction with creating a living will or other advance directive that details your wishes for things like life-prolonging measures and organ donation.

You can also give your partner the authority to make limited or all financial decisions and transactions if you’re determined to be unable to do so. This can help ensure that they can continue to pay bills, transfer money or even liquidate assets if necessary to cover your care.

Every couple’s situation and their wishes are unique. That’s one reason why it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance to develop estate plans that meet your needs.