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Unmarried couples: Can you make medical decisions?

According to the Pew Research Center, the rates of cohabitation between unmarried couples of all ages has increased. There are many reasons for this increase. Some couples choose to remain unmarried while many live together before getting married nowadays.

Regardless of the reason, this increase does come with a few setbacks of which unmarried couples must be aware, especially as they move forward into an unknown future together.

Financial issues can be convoluted

It is no secret that finances are a major aspect of a long-term relationship. Whether or not couples are married, they must determine how they will approach budgeting and paying bills if they live together.

Many California couples are aware that their financial matters could become incredibly complex if their partner passed away without an estate plan, but unexpected medical issues can also pose a great risk.

Medical matters are complicated too

Hospital visitation rights have been a point of contention for many years. Hospital staff often refused same-sex partners from seeing each other simply because anyone not related to a patient by blood or marriage had limited visitation rights. Thankfully, there are new protections in place that allow partners to visit each other. But visitation is not the only issue.

Unmarried couples frequently face challenges when it comes to making medical decisions on behalf of their significant other too – particularly if they do not have an estate plan in place.

It does not matter if couples plan to marry in the future or not. But it is critical to consider:

  1. An Advance Healthcare Directive giving your partner medical powers of attorney
  2. Durable Power of Attorney for your finances

We have discussed the importance of these tools in previous blog posts, but it bears repeating. Having these documents in place can help to ensure that your partner has the right and authority to make financial decisions on your behalf and get you the medical care you need – regardless of your marital status.

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