These days, it’s become the norm for couples who’ve been dating for a period of time to move in together. They generally share their bills and lives without any kind of formal agreement. Seniors are as likely to move in with each other as 20-somethings, and they’re often motivated by practical concerns and economic benefits.
Unlike marriage, however, living together provides you and your partner no legal protections when it comes to making medical, financial or legal decisions on each other’s behalf. Without the default protections of marriage, it’s necessary to take additional legal steps to protect you and your partner.
1. Cohabitation Agreements
California allows Cohabitation Agreements, in which partners agree on financial obligations to each other, both during cohabitation and after it ends. A Cohabitation Agreement might detail how household expenses will be divided. If there are children, there might be specifics about how a couple will divide childcare responsibilities and costs. If you own property with your partner, the agreement also can outline what happens to the property if you break up–who will purchase the other’s interest, for how much, and who will move out and when. Properly drafted, a Cohabitation Agreement will be enforced by the court.
2. Wills and Beneficiary Designations
If you die without a Will, California’s intestacy laws will dictate who will inherit your property. If you’re unmarried with no children, these laws typically leave assets to your parents or siblings. If you want your partner to inherit your property, you’ll need to create a Will that identifies how you want your assets distributed.
Assets such as retirement benefits and life insurance policies pass to heirs according to each account’s beneficiary designation, which overrides the designation of a Will. If you want your partner to inherit these assets, it is extremely important to make sure your beneficiary designation forms for all retirement accounts and life insurance policies are executed properly.
3. Advance Healthcare Directive
Doctors typically look to a patient’s closest living relatives to make healthcare decisions for those who are incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for themselves. If you’re married, your spouse is generally considered your closest living relative. If you’re unmarried with no children, your closest relatives are your parents, if they’re still living; if they’re not, then it’s your siblings to whom medical teams will turn to make important care decisions.
The solution is to make sure you have a valid Advance Healthcare Directive. This document will let you appoint your significant other/partner to make medical decisions for you if a physician determines you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
4. Financial Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney gives someone the authority to act on another person’s behalf. For many of our clients, a Financial Power of Attorney comes into effect when parents or other family members become physically or mentally incapable of managing their own affairs, and a family member or trusted aide takes over. Someone with a Power of Attorney will typically be responsible for paying bills, preparing taxes, settling claims, taking care of business interests and hiring household help.
If you and your partner are in a long-term, committed relationship, these legal documents will protect your rights if one of you becomes incapacitated or dies.
The HuffPost published a Reddit thread that asked the now-grown kids of divorce to look back and think about Divorce and the impact it’s had on their lives.
Acted out at school; took on more responsibility at home.
One ten-year old kid admitted to bullying tendencies. Seeing his parents’ marriage dissolve made things worse.“My parents’ divorce increased my bullying tenfold. After a couple of weeks, I started feeling depressed and became really quiet and shy. It was tough not understanding why your dad has to leave and why your mother cries herself to sleep at night. The good news: I stepped up and became a fiercely protective and loving big brother to my younger sister.”
Felt a sense of relief.
This one was fairly common. Many said they spent their teen years wishing their parents would divorce. “My parents wouldn’t divorce because they’re Catholic. Once my mom finally did leave my dad, I was relieved. I remember thinking that I hated my dad and wished he would just disappear. I had to wait until my early 20s for it to happen.”
The financial strain of living in a single-parent household.
Money struggles were a constant in many households. After the divorce, one kid, his mom and sister moved into a one-bedroom apartment. His mom worked two jobs to make ends meet, sometimes picking up a third. “It was all about giving us a good life, which she absolutely did. We may not have had the best clothes or everything we wanted, but she always tried to give us everything she could, and we never went hungry. My mom is incredibly heroic for raising us on her own. I don’t even care that I barely hear from my dad.”
The blame game.
Life as you know it changes when your parents split up. Rebellion is common. “I went off the rails. I refused to take responsibility for my own actions and blamed my parents for everything. I bought into the pity and coddling of those around me.”
Struggled with the divorce, even as adults.
Those families who waited to divorce until the kids are grown/out of school don’t necessarily have it any easier.“I was 29 when my parents divorced, and I’d been living away from home for much of that time, but it still hurt because my father is a jerk who waited until my youngest brother turned 18 to officially leave my mother.”
They didn’t take kindly to one parent badmouthing the other.
One kid’s mom had primary custody, and she began to dread weekends with her dad. “The hardest part was listening to all the crap he said about my mom and still does. My dad always told me that I was manipulative and playing games with him. It took me more than 18 years to figure out that I wasn’t a manipulative, game-playing control freak. I was the daughter of one!”
They were happy to see their parents thrive after the divorce.
One child, whose parents’ divorce was distressing at first, became convinced it was for the best by seeing how happy they were without each other!“My dad seems to be excelling at life now. He is more outgoing and independent. He likes to tell me about all the new things he’s doing and the friends he’s making. This is the best thing they could have done for themselves.”
California Document Preparers has helped hundreds of families get divorced. Our dedicated team is responsive and available throughout the process. It starts with an office visit to review the Divorce process, responsibilities and costs. If you’re contemplating Divorce, schedule an appointment today to talk to one of our team. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable.
A recent New York Times article describes a disturbing scenario that is likely touching many families nationwide. In the article, a 93-year-old woman, “Joan”, lives in Texas and has depended on “Anna”, for more than a decade. Anna comes to her home four days a week to help with shopping, laundry, housecleaning and driving Joan to appointments. “Anna is a wonderful person whom I trust completely.”
Anna is also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico
Both women fear that Anna will be detained and deported. Joan’s daughter lives in Oakland and is concerned about what would happen if Anna gets pulled over; her mother can neither drive nor care for herself. She knows that finding another caretaker like Anna will be nearly impossible, and she’s now researching alternative solutions for her mother.
The Trump administration’s immigration policies are taking a toll
In Brooklyn, an HR director asked local employment agencies to find 20-25 new nursing assistants and practical nurses. It’s a typical request, and usually, “I’m flooded with applications the next day.” Not anymore; she received five applications in a 30-day period.
She thinks the Trump administration’s immigration policies and rhetoric have discouraged potential workers. The organization typically drew from immigrant communities. Contributing to her employment problems:
A loss of 25 Haitian-American nursing assistants and practical nurses whose temporary protected status (TPS; temporary status given to eligible nationals of designated countries who are present in the U.S.) was terminated in November, and they must leave by July 2019.
Those healthcare workers with DACA status remain in limbo.
One in four of the direct-care workers in the nation’s nursing homes,
and homecare agencies are foreign-born, according to an analysis of census data by Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York research organization.
In the gray market, where consumers hire home-care workers directly and pay them under the table, the proportion is likely far higher.
A growing workforce shortage in direct care
There is a growing work force shortage in direct care that affects the entire industry; it may be most visible as it impacts older and disabled people and their families.
Long-term demographic changes drive labor shortages. The good news is that people are living longer, but they’re developing chronic diseases and disabilities along the way.
The sheer size of the baby-boom generation ratchets up demand.
The population of working-age women, who typically provide care both paid and unpaid, has shrunk, and has more career options.
Caring for old people dependent on a large number of immigrants
Caring for old people is a job that native-born Americans prefer not to take for a variety of reasons, including poor pay and benefits and the physical demands. As a result, nursing homes are frequently staffed by immigrant caretakers. With fewer immigrants available to fill these jobs, expect more system chaos. There are reports of nursing homes shutting down or stopping admissions altogether. The majority of aides and nursing assistants are American citizens, but nearly 35,000 come from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, whose immigrants have had TPS status in the U.S.—now terminated under the Trump administration.
11,000 care workers from Muslim countries won’t be available
Immigrants from Sudan, whose TPS status was also terminated, will have to leave the United States as early as this fall. Nearly 11,000 care workers come from Muslim countries but will no longer be able to immigrate because of the Supreme Court’s new ruling on Trump’s travel ban.
Sociological side effects of this immigrant deportation
Even when workers are legal residents, they may consider moving when relatives and friends are deported.
Whole neighborhoods begin to feel targeted. When friends, colleagues and family are deported, it shatters communities, leaving families feeling vulnerable.
Short-staffed nursing and care facilities mean that those already working there are putting in longer shifts, increasing pressure on the workforce.
Many families and healthcare workers fear that the Trump administration’s massive deportations will further undermine a system that is already poorly managed and regulated. Many believe it will get much worse over the coming months as we begin to feel the effects of these deportations.
The other side of the matter: The immigrants
There is, of course, the other side of this matter–that of the immigrants who have come to this country seeking better lives and a safe place to raise their families—just as our own ancestors did. Many have fled persecution, death threats, violence and gang wars. We’ve always found ways to integrate these immigrants into our communities, enriching our culture along the way.
Sadly, the current leadership is turning its back on them, holding them in detention, putting their children in cages and splitting up families that may never be reunited. These hardworking immigrants took the jobs that no one else wanted, and many of those jobs may now go unfilled. The consequences will be felt in nursing homes and homecare, agriculture and myriad other industries. We will all pay the price on many levels.
California Document Preparers’ assists our clients with the preparation of legal documents