If unmarried, can I assign decision making power in the event of incompacitation to my partner instead of my family?

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If unmarried, can I assign decision making power in the event of incompacitation to my partner instead of my family?

I have been together with my partner for a very long time. I am completely

estranged from my family. If anything were to happen to me that would

prevent me from making my own decisions. I would trust my partner to make

the correct decisions as opposed to my family. I want to prevent my family’s

involvement. However, my partner and I are both fundamentally opposed to

the idea of marriage. Can I assign the right to make these decisions to my

partner without getting married?

Asked on September 4, 2016 under Estate Planning, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can give him or her a power of attorney, which gives him or her the power to conduct your business, financial, economic, etc. affairs when you are incapacitated, and could also create a health care proxy/advance directive which gives him or her the power to make medical care decisions for you (and which also provides guidance to your partner as well as your physicians, by stating your feelings and instructions regarding heroic care, life support, etc.). You should do these immediately, to make sure you have them *before* anything happens. The best way to handle this is to hire an attorney to draft them for you: the lawyer can make sure that they accurately reflect your wishes, advise you as to certain choices you need to make (e.g. for the POA, it can be in effect always, even now, or could only come into effect if you become incapacitated or incompetent), and make sure everything is properly executed (i.e. signed), notarized, and witnessed, so as to be enforceable. While you're at it, if you don't already have one, you should create a will, too, to guide the distribution of your assets in the event the worst happens (e.g. to leave them to your partner, not your family).


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