An unmarried couple must have estate planning documents


An unmarried couple must have wills, living wills, health care surrogates and financial powers of attorney to protect one another from family members.


Lydia: I wanted to ask a question. My gentleman and I, we own some property together. We own a house, we own cars and we want to prepare some wills. We're not exactly sure. Neither of us have any children. We don't know, do we do a basic will because we have some items we would like to go to family members but we pretty much want everything we have to go to each other if one of us precedes the other, and then we're trying to figure out what do we do if we had an accident, we went at the same time.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Lydia, some wills could definitely cover that situation but first of all, you're telling me that you're not married.

Lydia: No.

Attorney Tom Olsen: You own real estate together. Now if I looked at the real estate Lydia, it has both your names. But after both your names, does it have words like tenants in common? Or joint tenants right of survivorship?

Lydia: Yes, it's rights of survivorship.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, as far as your real estate is concerned Lydia, if own those properties as joint tenants rights of survivorship and one of you passes away, then the survivor would automatically own it all, no probate required. Now, Lydia you can have a simple will that says, "We leave everything to each other." But then it could also provide for what happens if one of you dies second or if you both happen to die in a common accident what would happen Lydia, will some of it goes to your family, some of it go to his family?

Lydia: Pretty much so, that's our big dilemma, we're going like, "Well, if we went together, there'd be a big mess left behind."

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, that maybe a mess that's left behind but you need to answer that question about what happens when you passed away, who's going to get your wealth. Lydia the other things is when I do a will for people, I do three other related documents.

One is a living will declaration, where you ask that you not be kept alive by a machines, the other is a healthcare surrogate form where you're appointing somebody to decide what doctors, what hospitals, what medications and the other's a durable power of attorney for financial affairs. As important as the will is for you Lydia, it is also important that you also have these three other documents because you guys maybe partners in life, but if it comes down to making healthcare decisions and taking care of business, you're complete strangers to each other.

Your doctors and your financial institutions are not going to take orders from the other one unless you get this healthcare surrogate form and this financial durable power of attorney. Chrissy, do you have something to add to that?

Chrissy: Yes, absolutely Tom. Two things, important things that you said, one is and Lydia mentioned this. Of course they're going to be helping each other. But if both are incapacitated in the same common accident, it's who is going to step in and help with financial and healthcare decisions if they're alive but not competent, and then the second thing is, it is very important that Lydia and her partner do make decisions and put it in writing as to again what would happen to them if they both passed in a common accident to ensure like she said, that it's not a mess and that it goes to who they want it to go to.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Lydia, I'm doing a commercial break right here on WDBO right now. It starts by saying this, we've all seen situations, where somebody passes away and there's big arguments between all the relatives about what happens now. Lydia, you want to avoid that, I agree. You're on the right track Lydia, whether you're going to accomplish that by yourself I'm not so sure Lydia. Now, we would love to assist you getting those documents done Lydia and make sure things go simple, easy and inexpensive for you guys when either one of you, or both of you passes away, Lydia.

I know you're all the way in Davenport, but we're going to invite you to come visit here in Orlando, come visit us we'll buy you lunch in College park Lydia. Now if you want to reach us in the office next week. we can make that happen, you can call 4074235561. Again, Lydia and all you other people out there who want to get your will and related documents done, we'd love to assist you at 407-423-5561. You come all the way from Davenport to visit us, we'll buy you lunch in College park.