Medical Emergencies for Non-Married Couples

Are you in a long term relationship? Do you know what will happen if you or your partner have a medical emergency?

In 2021, it is much more common for couples to cohabitate together for long periods of time prior to getting married, if they even decide to take the next big step. While the couple might think they have everything figured out regarding paying the bills and groceries, most do not stop to think “What if something happens to one of us?”

People who have been in long term relationships should consider who has the right to know about their medical situations and/or make decisions if something catastrophic were to happen to them. They also need to consider who they would want to accompany them into a medical procedure.

Depending on the couple’s relationship, they may want to have each other appointed as their agent under their medical power of attorney or have a HIPAA release form executed to allow their partner to be able to speak with the doctors or other medical professionals.

There are plenty of times when an individual has a medical procedure or a medical emergency and their partner is barred from seeing their loved one and is unable to receive medical updates from the doctors or medical staff.

Sitting in the waiting room hoping for good news at some point is almost everyone’s nightmare. Unfortunately, non-married couples who do not have the proper documents in place live through this nightmare scenario all too frequently.

An individual may want their partner to be able to make medical decisions for them as they may be the most up to date with the individual’s wishes and medical history. Without a Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney, this is not possible and an individual’s next-of-kin has priority.

These conversations are not always the most pleasant or even easiest to have. Although, at some point in the relationship, it needs to happen. If this applies to you, have you had this conversation?

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Andrew Bradley

About the Author

Andrew Bradley is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. and assists in the administration of the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. He holds two Associates Degrees from Camden County College and is a member of the Estate & Financial Planning Council of Southern New Jersey.

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