Married couples automatically speak for each other in the event of emergencies. For unmarried couples, power of attorney may be the most important piece of paperwork they have. But one expert cautions: Don't just stash it in the filing cabinet.
WASHINGTON — Married couples automatically speak for each other in the event of emergencies, either financial or health.
For unmarried couples, straight or gay, power of attorney may be the most important piece of paperwork they have, specifically the “advance directive durable power of attorney for health care and living will.”
“God forbid it, but if somebody has a horrible accident and is rushed to the hospital, are you this individual’s spouse? No? Well, now you’ve got to produce the appropriate documentation that you are the person who the medical team should be talking to make those decisions,” Bill Moran, at Merrill Lynch in D.C. told WTOP.
Once you get that power of attorney paperwork, don’t just stash it in a filing cabinet.
“I actually recommend to my clients that are not married that they carry copies of those documents with them, so that in the event that somebody winds up in the emergency room, you’re presenting them to the staff when you come in there that you are the person who is making those medical decisions,” Moran said.
Power of attorney documents also cover long-term care and end-of-life decisions, and POA can extend to a wide range of other decisions that would otherwise require consent of both partners, such as disposal of real estate should one partner become incapacitated.
It doesn’t cost much to have a professional prepare power of attorney documents, and there are also inexpensive or free forms available online that carry as much weight.
If you choose the DIY route, just make sure your documents are made official through a notary public.
Moran specializes in financial planning for the LGBT community and was named an honoree for this year’s Washington Business Journal Business of Pride Awards.
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