Domestic partnership can resemble a legal marriage in every way, but in the eyes of the law the two are very different. Basically, if domestic partners haven’t planned ahead the surviving partner could be cut out of all funeral decision makingand even property ownership.
Estate planning is something everyone should do, but 66% of American adults don’t have a will. Of course, the percentage goes up with age. The youngest group (18-36 years old) is the least prepared. Only 22% in this group have a will. But by the time a person reaches 72 years old they’ve probably got a will. In the oldest age group 81% of people have a will.
Here are three reasons why all people in a domestic partnership should start estate planning right now.
Domestic Partners are Powerless Without Power of Attorney
Having someone there to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated is extremely important. If you’re married, your spouse automatically makes the decisions. That is, unless there’s Power of Attorney documentation.
Power of Attorney establishes who can make medical decisions for you. When Power of Attorney documentation exists whoever is appointed becomes the decision maker. That means a domestic partner would be assured they get to make medical decisions even if their partner has a living parent, adult child or was legally married to someone else.
The percentage of people who have planned ahead with Power of Attorney is higher than those who have created a will, but the numbers still aren’t great for younger generations. In total, just over half of American adults have Power of Attorney details on paper. But only 41% of the youngest adults fall into that category.
Without Legal Rights to Disposition Appointment the Next of Kin is in Control
But what about after a domestic partner passes? Who makes the decisions then?
Power of Attorney ends upon the person’s death. Everyone who is in a domestic partnership needs to do advanced planning if they want their partner to oversee the body disposition as well. Without written directives body disposition decision making automatically goes to the next of kin.
Appointing a specific person with the legal rights to disposition is very important because this is an aspect of funeral planning that can get contentious quickly if more than one person is trying to make the decisions. It’s not uncommon for loved ones to have differing personal views on types of body disposition, and some people don’t always respect the wishes of the deceased.
Having a will that spells out your domestic partner has the legal rights to disposition will prevent all of these problems from happening.
Both Partners Need to be on the Deed
Another part of estate planning that can get messy very fast for domestic partners is property ownership. When one person is on the deed and the other is not, the surviving partner could find themselves without a home after the technical homeowner passes. Legally, without a will the home could go to the next of kin.
Here again, having a will helps tremendously. The partner that’s on the deed and legally owns the home can name the surviving partner as the heir to the property. However, this could be a complicated process and other family members may try to contest the will. The simpler solution is to make sure both partners are on the deed and there are “rights to survivorship.” That way upon death the surviving partner becomes sole owner.
If you’re planning ahead you can line everything up for a direction cremation well in advance. Give Direct Cremate a call or text to discuss how to save time, money and stress with advanced cremation planning.