Estate planning attorneys have noticed an interesting trend emerging in the United States.
There was a 14% increase in the numbers of people who are at least 60 years of age who are living with someone as a domestic partner according to a 2008-2010 United States Census Bureau survey as compared to 2005-2007 numbers.
In most cases the underlying reason that so many seniors are choosing to live together is that marriage can have negative financial implications.
Retirement pensions are one of the concerns. Many pension plans allow for the surviving spouse of the individual receiving the pension to continue to receive survivor's benefits after the death of his or her spouse.
Given the limited income that is provided by Social Security this survivor's pension can be the difference between relative poverty and a comfortable lifestyle.
In many instances the rules governing the survivor's pension state that it will no longer be paid if the recipient was to get remarried. Because this income can be so important to many individuals they simply don't get legally married.
There are other financial reasons why seniors choose to remain unmarried, not the least of which are the preferred tax benefits of a single person. If you make the choice to remain single, but live with your new partner, you must be certain that you have executed all of the appropriate estate planning documents.
The law will not recognize your significant other if you were to become disabled, need medical decisions to be made for you, or pass away without recording your wishes in a legally binding manner. However, with a visit to a good estate planning lawyer you can make sure that you and your partner are provided for come what may.
With a proper estate plan you can not only provide for your domestic partner, but you can also include an incapacity provision empowering your partner to act as your representative and handle your affairs if you were to become unable to make sound decisions at some point in time. You can also allow them access to you if you are hospitalized and name them to make medical decisions for you in your advance directives, should you choose to do so.