Increasingly, couples across the nation are creating their own paths when it comes to settling down. Marriage no longer defines whether a couple is committed to each other, and many prefer to buy a home or start a family well before entertaining the idea of a wedding. This leaves room for complications, but a basic estate plan can help protect a couple's unique family unit.
A very simple and effective document to have in place is a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Washington State's Uniform Power of Attorney Act (RCW Chapter 11.125) allows for individuals to appoint a trusted agent to make a broad array of decisions on his/her behalf. This document is useful if an individual is ill, incapacitated, or unavailable to make important decisions. The scope of the agent's decision making power can be widened or narrowed depending on personal preference. A POA can also allow for an agent to make healthcare decisions for the principal's minor children if a parent or legal representative is not readily available. RCW 11.125.410.
Having a Last Will and Testament can help prevent confusion as to what will happen to a deceased individual's estate. Without a Last Will and Testament, the disposition of the estate is subject to Washington's intestate statute. RCW 11.04.015. This statute provides for distribution to a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner. However, a partner who is neither a spouse nor a registered domestic partner may face hurdles. A Will can protect a significant other from being left out of his/her partner's estate.
These documents are just two examples of what can be included in an estate plan. Each family's estate plan will look different. Discuss with your estate planning attorney for more detail.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By accessing this blog site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Sekhon Law, PLLC. This post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.