Cohabitation in Kansas and throughout the United States is an increasingly popular alternative to marriage. With these numbers on the rise, it is easy to assume the law has you covered should separation or death occur. A vast number of unmarried couples are finding the opposite to be true and left with a financial mess in the process. How can you protect yourself if you are in a civil partnership? The solution is simple: make a legally binding cohabitation agreement and will.
Generally, unmarried cohabitants do not have the same rights as married individuals with respect to property acquired during a relationship, even in long-term relationships. Some property acquired by unmarried couples may be owned jointly, but it may be difficult to divide such property if the relationship ends. There is no legally binding asset allocation or financial support attached to a couple who cohabitates unless a non-martial agreement is in place.
A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract which outlines a variety of personal, financial and family issues you and your partner may face in the event of an emergency or breakup. It may include points involving personal property, debts, inheritances, child custody, child support, child-related expenses and care decisions, pets, health insurance and healthcare directives.
When you move in together, you and your partner share a place to live, financial interests, healthcare interests and possibly even children. But the law doesn’t give you the same rights as it gives married couples. If you want your relationship to be legally protected, creating a cohabitation agreement with a licensed attorney can provide a straightforward division of assets and give you peace of mind.
Medical Directive and Power of Attorney
Unmarried couples cannot make emergency medical and financial decisions for each other unless legal documentation is in place. By creating a durable power of attorney for your finances and a healthcare directive, you are empowering the person of your choosing to make important decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot make them for yourself. Otherwise, if you ever become seriously injured, your biological relatives will be designated to make decisions for you, which may or may not respect the input of your partner.
Non-Married Partner Wills
Cohabitating partners are not automatically considered heirs under the law. If you are in a civil partnership then your partner isn’t legally entitled to anything when you die, regardless of how long you’ve been together or how many kids you’ve had together.
Without a will, Kansas law will dictate the distribution of property. In Kansas, property is distributed to the spouse and children first. If the person is not legally married and has no children, and there is no will in place, the partner will receive nothing and property will be divided among parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and then to more distant relatives. A will allows a person to name beneficiaries to property, forgive debts owed, name guardians of children, create trusts, name an executor of the will, and even disinherit relatives. Developing a will is an effective way to ensure your desires are implemented and protect your partner in the process.