Young love is a powerful thing, and virtually every Pennsylvania resident can remember a time in which the possibilities of life seemed endless and future happiness felt like a certainty. While this is a normal part of early adulthood, young people must take care that they are not overlooking important needs while swept up in a committed but unmarried relationship. For such couples, durable powers of attorney offer a way of legitimizing one's partner as an authorized proxy in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury.
Very few of us make detailed plans for such a distressing event, preferring instead to rely on statistics to keep us safe from harm. In reality, however, accidents and illnesses do occur, and can pose a number of difficulties for young people who have not taken the appropriate estate planning steps needed to name an individual to make vital medical and financial decisions. In the best case scenarios, a great deal of confusion makes an already difficult time even harder to handle. In the worst examples, one's partner can become embroiled in conflict with one's family members.
When a serious illness or injury occurs, the medical professionals who will provide much needed care need direction as to whom to turn to when important decisions must be made. If there is no documentation of a patient's wishes in that regard, it is usually a family member who is trusted with that role. In the event that the patient was estranged from his or her family or does not share the same set of core beliefs, the end result could be a standard of care that is far different than one intended.
The best way for young couples to address this matter is to sit down with an estate planning attorney and draft the appropriate paperwork. Durable powers of attorney offer a high level of protection against the negative outcomes outlined above. While each and every Pennsylvania resident will have a unique set of needs in this regard, there is a solution available for every possible scenario.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples", Alexandra Smyser, Sept. 10, 2015