Cohabitation is legally different than marriage

The rights between married couples can be very different from the rights of unmarried couples. Certain legal instruments can be prepared and executed to increase the rights of unmarried couples under Pennsylvania law. You have to take the first step, though.

Generally, healthcare providers are under a duty of patient confidentiality and only talk to authorized representatives of their patients. This issue is most important when the patient’s condition prevents him or her from making decisions. Most often, the authorized person is someone with a “Power of Attorney.” That means that the patient had previously executed a legal document authorizing another person to receive information and to make decisions for that patient. In the occasions where a healthcare professional can consider input from someone without a Power of Attorney, spouses are number one. Unmarried cohabitants could possibly have input, but usually after adult children, parents, adult siblings and adult grandchildren. So, if you are not married, and want your significant other to have say in your healthcare treatment when you are unable to make decisions, a Power of Attorney can be a very effective way to accomplish this goal. You should consult with a lawyer on this to help you.

What happens to the assets of an unmarried person upon death? If there is no will, the assets go to children, parents, siblings (and their children), grandparents, aunts and uncles (and their children and grandchildren), and, finally, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The intestacy laws do not provide for assets to transfer to “significant others.” If you would like your significant other to be included among the beneficiaries of your estate, you should consult with an attorney about preparing a Last Will and Testament that provides for your intentions.

These are only some of the steps that unmarried couples can take to effectuate certain intentions.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, call the Seach Law Offices at (570)359-3283 for a consultation. We can help you with a Power of Attorney, Will and other legal instruments that are right for your situation.