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Steps Life Partners Can Take For Legal Protection
Married couples have a lot of protections under law. Unmarried partners do not in many places. What can partners do to protect each other and prepare for life's problems and unfortunate circumstances.Many states are taking steps to provide legal protection for life partners. However, in many instances, life partners, or those in a cohabitation situation, a mother living with her daughter, or an unmarried elderly couple living together for example, do not have a lot in the way of legal protections in the event of illness, incapacitating events, or death.
While the government may not have provided protection, there are legal steps that can be taken so that partners or cohabiters can protect one another in the event of unusual circumstances. Some areas to think about are finances, health care, property rights, and issues that will arise after death such as those concerning burial, disposal of the remains, and rights to property.
The first step that springs to mind is the creation an effective Last Will and Testament. As seen so recently in the Anna Nicole Smith case, not having an up-to-date Will created a vacuum in which the government had to step in and attempt to determine the wishes of the deceased. From my own personal experience I am aware how not having a last will and testament can create difficulties for the family of the deceased.
In many cases, there will be property to be dealt with, and, while a will may state who is to get that property, ownership of that property may be in question unless steps have been taken, such as preparation of a quitclaim deed, to insure that questions of ownership will not arise.
Healthcare and finances can also be an issue. Legal forms such as healthcare directives, living wills, and living trusts can create a clear legal path for one partner to care for and attend to the needs of the other.
Simple steps such as filling out a power of attorney form and last will and testament purchased online or at the local business supply store can be a cheap, effective, and incredibly important move in protecting you and your partner in situations that may eventually occur.
DOCUMENTS TO CONSIDER:
Cohabitation Agreement: This is simply a written contract entered into by any two people prior to living together. It will specifically outline and address issues concerning finances and property of the partners. It also states what will take place in these areas if the relationship ends.
Last Will and Testament: This will clearly define your wishes in the event of your death so that your assets can be distributed according to your desires and the choices of distribution will not fall to the state.
Living Trust: This allows you to make a legal decision as to how you want your assets and property to be managed while you are alive. It can also define how you want your assets and property to be distributed after your death.
Living Will: A living will, among other things, allows you to spell out how you want your healthcare to be performed and managed in the event you become incapacitated.
Quitclaim Deed: In the event that a living trust has been prepared, a quitclaim deed should also be prepared to aid in achieving an uncontested transfer of title to property.
Power of Attorney: This simple form allows you to designate someone to perform actions in your behalf and in your name.
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