Domestic Partnerships

What is a domestic partnership?

A domestic partnership is two adults who are not related that chose to live with each other in a committed relationship that has not been formalized by marriage. Domestic partners include GLBQ couples, as well as heterosexual couples who chose not to marry.

What is a domestic partnership agreement?

A domestic partnership agreement is a contract between domestic partners that outlines financial agreements between the partners, such as how property and assets are owned, whether income and other expenses are shared, how property and debts should be divided if the relationship ends, palimony, and whether the partners will utilize alternative dispute resolution procedures such as mediation to resolve any disputes about property.

What is an estate plan?

An estate plan ordinarily includes a will, a general power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney and living will, and a mental healthcare power of attorney. A will is a legal document that governs the disposition of the estate after death. A will may include the appointment of a personal representative in charge of winding up the affairs of the deceased, specific bequests of property, the appointment of a guardian or conservator for minor children, and burial instructions. A general power of attorney appoints an individual to make certain financial decisions on behalf of another person. A healthcare power of attorney and living will appoint an individual to make healthcare decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person, and contain instructions as to the preferences of the incapacitated person with respect to life-sustaining treatments, consent to organ donation, and similar decisions. A mental healthcare power of attorney appoints a person to act on behalf of the principal when the principal is no longer capable of making decisions. All powers of attorney are only effective while the principal is alive. The will becomes effective upon death. Some estate plans also include trusts. A trust is a legal document where a person (the settlor) grants legal title of certain property to another (the trustee) to manage on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts are often used to provide for the care of children or incapacitated adults, as well as in other situations. You should consult with an attorney to determine if a trust is appropriate for your situation.

Further information about estate planning with the Benavidez Law Group, P.C. can be found by clicking here.

Why do domestic partners need a domestic partnership agreement and estate plans?

Domestic partnership agreements and estate plans are necessary to protect domestic partners in the event of the end of the relationship, death, or incapacity. Domestic partners do not enjoy the same protections that are offered by marriage. Therefore, if the relationship ends, general contract law rather than family law applies to determine the ownership of assets and the disposition of debts. Family members rather than life partners would have the power to make medical decisions on the behalf of the incapacitated partner and to deny the life partner visitation. Similarly, family members rather than life partners would inherit property and have the authority to make decisions relating to the funeral. Domestic partners with a domestic partnership agreement can avoid the emotional distress and expense of litigation in the event of the end of the relationship while simultaneously clarifying their financial arrangements. An estate plan can grant decision-making authority that would otherwise go to family members to domestic partners and clarify the partner’s intentions in the event of death.

Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with an attorney to create a domestic partnership agreement and estate plan tailored to protect your family of choice.