Many senior citizens become close with a partner, oftentimes after the passing of a spouse, but do not want to make a commitment to marriage right away. Companionship may be all they’re seeking, or they don’t want to tackle the daunting task of blended family planning.
Whatever the case, these unmarried partners are usually closely involved with each other’s lives and may want the other to have a say in certain financial or healthcare decisions both before and after death. As many unmarried senior couples have unfortunately discovered, though, partners have no legal standing to manage affairs or inherit property if their loved one becomes incapacitated or dies. Unmarried couples cannot make financial or medical decisions on each other’s behalf without the proper legal documentation, and without a last will and testament, the laws of succession direct that property held by a deceased individual must go to their closest surviving relatives, typically parents, siblings, or children.
With all this being said, there are some legal planning strategies that can help you and your partner care for each other and even leave something behind to them after you pass. An experienced Ohio elder lawyer can draft designation documents, such as a power of attorney and living will, that allow unmarried couples to make financial and medical decisions for each other. An attorney can also draft a last will and testament that determines what should happen to your assets and property after you’ve passed away.
There are also some asset protection strategies that an elder law attorney can advise you about, including naming your partner as the beneficiary on solely-owned financial accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. By naming your partner as a beneficiary of financial accounts and policies, or even owning property jointly, you and your partner can avoid the probate process on those assets and property. Again though, it is important to speak to an elder law attorney to address any concerns you, your partner, and your families may have before committing to such a plan.
If you have any questions about planning for yourself and a senior partner, or if you and your partner would like to have your current plan reviewed to make sure it still fits your situation, please contact our Ohio elder law office at 877-653-3450 to schedule an initial consultation.