Estate Planning and Significant Others

For anyone in an unmarried partnership, it is important to have an estate plan in order to avoid disinheriting your partner. If you do not have an appropriate plan in place, Arizona law will take over, your assets could be tied up in a potentially lengthy and expensive probate process, and ultimately distributed according to a state-run system which may not reflect your intent. The good news is that with our help, you can avoid probate. A living trust is a good way to avoid probate while still ensuring the transfer of your assets to your partner and/or friends after death. A living trust can provide you with a smooth, inexpensive transfer of assets after death, without the court-supervised probate process. It can make it easier for your partner and for your loved ones. In addition, a living trust is private. Even after you die, no one except the beneficiary has the right to know how you allocated your assets.

Another important reason to have an estate plan is to plan for Incapacity with a Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive. Through a Durable Power of Attorney, you can appoint your partner or friend to act as your agent, with authority to make certain decisions for you if you become legally incapacitated, which must be certified in writing by your doctor. Then, your agent will step in and perform the actions which you have outlined. Examples of actions you may authorize your agent to perform are: making your mortgage payments, collecting money due to you and depositing it in your bank account, paying bills, and even keeping your business running. If you do not prepare and sign a Durable Power of Attorney, someone will have to petition in court to be appointed as your agent. This can be expensive, time-consuming, and distressing to all involved, especially if there is a conflict between your partner and a family member.

It is also prudent to execute a health care directive to complement and clarify your rights. For example, you can express whether you would like to be placed on life support if doctors have determined that there is no chance of recovery.

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