Estate planning can be complicated for anyone, and it can be even more complicated for an unmarried same-sex couple living in California.
You and your partner may have no interest in a legal marriage — even if you’re deeply committed to each other. Just the same, there are still some crucial steps you should take if you want you and your partner to be part of each other’s estate planning — and the necessary documents go far beyond a mere will.
What end-of-life documents do partners need from each other?
First, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 requires doctors and healthcare providers to get consent to discuss and disclose your health condition and records with someone you designate. This kind of consent is extremely important, and it should be one of the first things you and your partner discuss. In case you become medically incapacitated, having a HIPPA form on file will allow your partner to be informed on your condition at all times.
Second, you need a medical power of attorney. If you become incapacitated and unable to make your own choices, this document will give your partner permission to make any and all medical decisions for you.
Third, you should have a living will that explicitly states your end-of-life care wishes that your partner can execute on your behalf. This serves as a guideline of your wishes that your partner can use if they do need to make your medical decisions for you.
Lastly, you should have a durable financial power of attorney on file as well which will authorize your partner to make decisions regarding your financial affairs if you are unable. This can be especially important if your partner may need to pay bills, access your bank account, handle the rent or take care of your online accounts while you are incapacitated for any reason.
Get help with your estate planning documents
You and your partner should discuss this in length and seek legal support to secure all the necessary documents and file them in court on your behalf.