If you live together but are not married, you are not entitled to the same rights as a married couple. Couples who live together but are not married during the pandemic need to take steps to legally protect themselves. Many couples who live together have no plans to marry, while others have had their wedding plans postponed due to the pandemic. The global pandemic has made many people realize the need to protect their loved ones if the unexpected happens. To protect themselves, unmarried couples can take steps to legally protect each other in the event one of them becomes ill, or should pass away.
1. Advance Directive and Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy gives someone else the power to make decisions about your health care if you become ill and are unable to make decisions for yourself. Married couples by law are entitled to make decisions for their spouse unless there is a legal document designating a different health care decision-maker. To ensure you can make medical decisions for your partner even though you are not married, you should both sign a health care proxy to protect each other and make sure someone else does not make those decisions for your partner.
2. Power of Attorney
What happens if your partner is ill and cannot pay bills and handle other financial matters? Unmarried couples who are used to making joint decisions can be surprised to find out that if their partner becomes ill, they do not have the right to legally act on his or her behalf. You can set up a power of attorney so that you can make banking and other transactions for each other.
3. Wills and Trusts
Do you share ownership of a home, cars or other property? If a couple is not married and there is no will or trust in place to designate beneficiaries, Georgia's intestate laws go into effect and the court will determine who inherits your partner's belongings. Wills and trusts can be set up to ensure that if your partner dies, the assets you share together are passed to you, and not to your partner's parents or siblings.
4. Prenuptial Agreement
Do you own a business? Do you have children together? In Georgia, you and your future spouse can make a contract outlining rights to child custody, spousal support, and even division of assets. This is commonly known as a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that couples can create before their marriage. It is designed to straighten out financial matters and address the division of marital assets and other issues in case a couple decides to divorce.
For a couple who is not married but shares property or other assets, a prenuptial agreement can help document your rights and responsibilities in the event you are no longer together even if you have no plans to marry.
A Georgia family law attorney can help couples and families legally protect their rights. Laws governing unmarried couples vary from state to state. In Georgia, a family law attorney can help an unmarried couple legally protect their partner and their family in the event they decide to separate or if one partner dies. If you and your partner verbally agreed on your relationship and what would happen if one of you dies or if you decide to separate, there is no written proof of that agreement.
Without legal documents in place, state laws determine how property and other assets will be divided if an unmarried couples breaks up or one partner dies - not you.
Do you want to set up a prenuptial agreement with your partner? Call our Lawrenceville, GA office today at (678) 436-3636 to speak to experienced Georgia family lawyer Sharon Jackson. You can also contact us through our website to schedule an initial consultation.
Attorney Sharon Jackson LLC
175 Langley Drive, Suite A1
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Phone: (678) 909-4100
Fax: (678) 281-0482