Even after same-sex marriage has been legalized in the United States, some committed same-sex couples do not wish to be legally married. Indeed, many opposite-sex couples who are living together do not want to tie-the-knot. If you are an unmarried couple in Phoenix, you are not afforded the same rights and protections as married couples. You must proactively plan for your relationship together, death, and possible separation in order to overcome legal struggles.
Domestic partnership agreements provide a tool for unmarried couples in Phoenix, Arizona to plan for their futures. A domestic partnership agreement is a contract between a committed but unmarried couple that addresses their rights, responsibilities, and obligations together.
Issues that a Domestic Partnership Agreement Can Address in Phoenix
A domestic partnership agreement in Phoenix can address many different issues and will be unique to each couple. An attorney can help you create a domestic partnership agreement that works for you and your family. Some examples of areas that a domestic partnership agreement can address include:
- How property and assets are owned;
- Who makes payments for maintenance or repairs on shared property;
- Whether income and other expenses are shared;
- How joint checking or saving accounts are controlled;
- Who has control of pension or retirement accounts;
- Property division in the event of separation;
- Debt division in the event of separation;
- Maintenance and support in the event of separation;
- Child custody in the event of separation; and
- Estate planning tools, such as wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and living wills
Advantages of Having a Domestic Partnership Agreement in Phoenix
If you are unmarried and your partner dies or you separate, you will not be protected under the law. This is true even if you were in a committed relationship and living together for many years. A domestic partnership agreement, along with other tools, can help provide you legal protection and security that you would not otherwise be afforded. For example, if you are not married, other family members, not your partner, will have the legal power to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable. Only through drafting a health care power of attorney and designating your partner will your partner have the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf.
Taking the time to plan today for your future will prevent a lot of stress and heartache down the road. In the case of separation, each party’s rights and responsibilities will be clear and agreed upon lowering the chance of a drawn-out legal battle. Furthermore, if a partner dies, there will be certainty about the wishes of the deceased, and there will be less fighting between family members.
The Domestic Partnership Agreement is Private in Phoenix
The domestic partnership agreement is a private contract between you and your partner and not filed with courts. Third parties will not be able to search for a copy of a domestic partnership agreement.
Other Estate Planning Tools to Consider in Phoenix
In addition to a domestic partnership agreement, if you and your partner are unmarried but in a committed relationship, you should consider creating the following estate planning documents:
- Last Will and Testament: A legal document with instructions for disposing of assets and caring for your children after death. If you are unmarried and die without a will in Phoenix, your partner will not be entitled to any part of your estate unless you create a will.
- Revocable Trust: A trust that holds assets for the benefit of other persons or entities. Since it is revocable, you can change it during your lifetime.
- Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives another person legal authority to sign on your behalf. It will allow your partner to handle your finances if you become incapacitated.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives another person the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to.
- Living Will: A legal document that states your end-of-life care wishes, such as whether to be placed on life-support.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
Nicole Pavlik is a Phoenix estate planning attorney committed to helping unmarried couples plan for their future. Everyone needs an estate plan, especially non-married couples that are not otherwise afforded legal protections under the law. If you are interested in creating a domestic partnership agreement, call Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today at (602) 635-6176 for a free consultation.