Non-Traditional Plans for Non-Traditional Partners

Can you imagine your beloved partner being gravely injured, and you unable to be at his or her bedside? For most of us this is unthinkable, but this is exactly what happened to Brett Conrad and Patrick Atkins, a gay couple of 25 years, when Patrick suffered a stroke in 2005 and was placed in the care of his highly religious parents.

This is not an isolated occurrence.  You may consider your partnership to be the same as that of a traditionally married couple, but unfortunately the law does not agree.  In the absence of a traditional marriage license, the law will often give priority to biological relatives. 

The good news is that you don’t have to accept the estate plan that the laws of your state have created for you.  By creating your own estate plan (with a knowledgeable attorney) you can outline exactly who would make health care decisions for you, and how your property would be distributed should something happen to you.  And you have the added benefit of avoiding probate and court proceedings at the same time. Your particular estate plan will depend on the laws of the state in which you live, so contact your estate planning attorney about the details.

It may be only logical to you that the person with whom you share a house, bank accounts, and a gym membership be the one to take care of you and your finances in time of tragedy, but the law doesn’t always see it that way.  There are too many examples of unmarried partners who have put off creating the proper estate planning documents, and end up being kept from each other during an illness, or with their jointly acquired assets passing to biological relatives instead of to the other partner.  Don’t wait until it’s too late, talk to your estate planning attorney and take the right precautions today.