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Why is estate planning important for unmarried couples?

It is a very good idea for every adult in California to have a comprehensive estate plan, but if you live with a partner to whom you are not married, having legal documentation in place to describe the role that he or she is to play in your end-of-life plans becomes even more important. Laws and customs automatically confer certain rights to married couples but presume no such provisions for unmarried couples no matter how long they have lived together. 

According to FindLaw, if you want your partner to have decision-making power in regard to your health care or finances if you are no longer able to make them for yourself, you need to create one or more powers of attorney to name him or her as your representative in those matters. In addition to the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf, a health care power of attorney guarantees your partner visitation rights and access to your medical records. A comprehensive estate plan includes both a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney, although either can be set up individually as well.

It is also important to make out a will that clearly indicates what you would like your partner to inherit. If you die without a valid will, the court will distribute your estate according to the rules of intestacy. These rules heavily favor spouses, children and other blood relatives, meaning that if you do not have a will, your partner could end up inheriting nothing after your death. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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