Question 1: If I die, will my partner inherit my property?
Answer: Probably not. Unless you have taken steps to ensure that your partner will inherit your assets after you die, there is no provision in the law that grants your partner the right to inherit. Unlike married couples, cohabitating couples are not entitled to receive property from the other upon that person’s death. You can, however, choose to leave your partner an inheritance by creating a will or other estate planning device.
Question 2: What happens if I get sick? Who can make decisions for me then?
Answer: If you have not taken any estate planning steps, it is unlikely your partner will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf. State law usually requires that a close family member, such as a parent, child, or sibling make these decisions on your behalf. However, the law also allows you to select someone else who can step in in such a situation, though you must make your selection through either a power of attorney or other recognized document.
Question 3: Who will look after my finances if I am incapable?
Answer: Similar to medical decisions, the legal authority to make financial decisions on your behalf, if you are incapable, will fall to a close family member or other person as a court determines. If you want your partner to be able to make decisions, you’ll have to create a power of attorney, or, better yet, a living trust, that will legally transfer your decision-making authority to your partner in the event you are incapacitated.