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Safeguarding Your Future: Legal Tips from a Troy Elder Law Attorney for Unmarried Cohabiting Seniors

Posted by Andrew Byers | Jan 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

As we age, companionship and shared responsibilities become more valuable. Many seniors are choosing cohabitation over solitude for mutual support and to cut costs. However, this arrangement brings about some legal nuances that need addressing. Based on my experience as an elder law attorney in Troy, this article discusses legal steps for unmarried seniors who are living together to consider.

Financial Talks are Crucial

Money matters can be a complex issue when seniors decide to live together. While separate bank accounts, credit cards, and investments often remain the preferred choice, some couples might contemplate pooling their resources. However, merging finances should only be considered when both partners are entirely confident about the decision. If there's an imbalance in financial assets between partners, consulting legal and financial professionals is highly recommended. If both parties have children, it is important to understand that when the first of you passes away, the survivor becomes the sole owner of the jointly owned asset. Upon the death of the survivor, that asset then passes solely to the survivor's children, not both parties' children. Proper estate planning can avoid this unintentional disinheritance.

Importance of Legal Agreements

Cohabiting seniors should strongly consider drafting a legal agreement detailing their financial commitments and expectations in case of unforeseen circumstances like illness or death. This agreement might include provisions on managing or dividing joint property if one partner becomes incapacitated or passes away. It should also address potential scenarios where one party may need or choose to relocate, outlining how shared bills and property ownership would be handled in such instances. You may want to appoint each other as agents under General Durable Powers of Attorney for financial decision making.

Nominating Healthcare Decision Makers

For seniors living together, regardless of age, it's essential to designate a trusted person who can make key decisions if they become unable to do so themselves. This person, named in a Designation of Patient Advocate, will have the authority to make decisions about your care, including the need for medical treatment. If you intend to make end-of-life decisions as a couple, ensure you have advance directives in place before any medical procedures. This step ensures your wishes are honored if something unexpected occurs during treatment or surgery.

Chart Your Own Unique Path Forward

Choosing to live together as seniors provides an opportunity for companionship, shared responsibilities, and maintaining financial independence. But it's important not to overlook the legal aspects of such an arrangement. Careful financial planning, setting clear legal agreements, and appointing a healthcare decision-maker are crucial steps. Armed with these practical tips, unmarried seniors can navigate their cohabitation journey confidently, knowing they are prepared for potential future scenarios. Enjoy your time together without the worry of legal complications—we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact our Troy estate planning attorney at (248) 469-4261 or use the form on the website to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Andrew Byers

Andrew Byers' elder law practice focuses on the legal needs of older clients and their families, and works with a variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the older client. Under this holistic approach, I handle estate and longevity planning issues and counsel cli...

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Peace of Mind Made Simple

Andrew Byers is an estate planning, elder law, and probate attorney in Troy, Michigan with 27 years of practical experience you can use to safeguard your savings and protect yourself. I strive to help my clients avoid and solve problems with clear, effective, and affordable legal services and counsel. I advise clients in Troy, Michigan and surrounding communities in Oakland County and the rest of Metro Detroit. Take the first step to obtaining peace of mind by contacting me using the online form or by calling (248) 469-4261.

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