Planning for Life Partners
If you and someone consider yourselves to be a family unit but are not married, whether that is a choice you have made or the government has made for you, you are in what we call a “life partnership.” The 2000 census reported nearly 5,500,000 unmarried couples sharing the same household, many of those households would be life partners. This is a rapidly growing segment of American society. Between the 1990 and 2000 United States Census, the number of unmarried couples living together increased by 72%, from 3.2 to 5.5 million.
Because in Texas and Federal law a life partnership has no legal recognition, if you have a life partner it is critical that you and your life partner establish legal rights for each other. For example, without planning:
- Your life partner may be excluded from permissible visitors if you are in a hospital unable to make your desires known;
- If you need a guardian, it is extremely unlikely that your life partner will be appointed if any of you blood relatives objects;
- If you die, none of your property will go to your life partner;
- Your life partner has no authority to be involved in medical decisions if you are incapacitated;
- If you die, your life partner will not be allowed to claim your body or make arrangements for your funeral and burial;
- If your life partner is listed as a dependent under your employer’s medical insurance plan, only you can elect COBRA coverage for him or her when you leave that employment;
- Life partnerships are not recognized by the federal government, so a surviving life partner is not able to collect on the deceased life partner’s social security;
- Most private retirement plans will not allow a joint retirement annuity with any one other than a “spouse” and many will only allow blood relatives to be named as a beneficiary; and
- The legal rights of life partners relative to each other are often enormously expensive to sort out by lawsuit when the partnership ends either during life or on the death of a partner.
It does not have to be that way. With proper planning, almost all of the problems listed above and many others can be taken care of so that you and your life partner can rest assured that a crisis or disaster will not have avoidable consequences and your life partnership will have the effect you want it to have.
If you want to explore joint planning with or planning alone for a life partner, CLICK HERE.