Some of the most important estate planning areas for a non-traditional family are living wills, health care directives, and powers of attorney.
If two people aren’t legally married, or related by blood, they may as well be strangers. The Florida case of Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial Hospital was a perfect example. One of the partners in a non-traditional family from Washington state died from an illness during a vacation here. As if that wasn’t tragic enough, the family wasn’t allowed to visit the dying partner – or even receive updates – until a blood relative arrived.
In this situation, many states consider blood relatives as the only legal family…and the consequences can be devastating. Relatives who are estranged from the sick person may be allowed to make health care decisions, and may be given control of children, the home, and the property. And the partner will have little – or no – legal recourse. In some states, the partner doesn’t even have the right to live in the family home while legal proceedings are taking place.
Non-traditional families should also have health care proxies and HIPAA authorizations – even if their state recognizes their union.
Demographic trends in recent years have resulted in dramatic changes in what constitutes a “family” in this country. And I’ve had a number of non-traditional families or partners come to me heartbroken…because they didn’t take the time to get the necessary protection.
The laws are horribly confusing. And, of course, they vary from state to state.
Estate planning for non-traditional families is a minefield, fraught with traps. But we can get you through it.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we’ve been walking South Florida families – both non-traditional and traditional – through the Elder Law minefield for 34 years. And we’ve helped thousands of them establish estate plans appropriate for them – with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid and the VA.
We’ll get you through the Elder Law minefield. And we’re just a phone call away.