Unmarried, Living Tiny & the Legalities of it All

“Freedom” our skoolie, currently under construction.

In 2018 there are many different forms of family.

Friends can become brothers and sisters and neighbors can become parents. There are also divorced parents that have blended beautifully for the sake of the children (my ex and I fit into this category). A family is diverse and rich and for every person, it looks different. My family includes my mother, my grandparents, my aunt & uncle, friends, my ex-husband and his wife, my son (my everything) and my significant other, he is my boyfriend, he is my PARTNER.

When my significant other and I met we knew that we wanted to be together for as long as the universe would allow us to.

We also knew that relationships take work and it took us 4 years to get to a place of healthy respect, understanding, and acceptance of who we were as individuals and who we were together. We knew that every day we had to choose each other. We had to work at it and so we did just that. We built a life for my son and for each other. We lived in a tiny house and had a homestead. We then closed down the homestead, began to remodel the tiny house to put it up for sale, bought a bus and began working on it to turn it into our next tiny house — a skoolie! Life was and is good.

Then one day I was watching a show on Hulu.

A bride and groom and their family were headed to their wedding ceremony in a bus. There was a head-on collision and several family members were injured and taken to the hospital, including the groom. At the hospital, an executive decision had to be made about amputating the groom’s leg or an experimental surgery of a femur implant. The bride (even though it was their wedding day) was not allowed to make that decision. The parents next of kin were then asked to step in to make that decision. They wanted to have the leg amputated, while the bride wanted the experimental surgery. A judge was called in to decide and by this mans bedside she listened to both parties and gave her resolve as to who had the right to make a medical decision on behalf of the groom.

As exaggerated as that storyline was it held some validity and it got me thinking about my life with my partner.

What happens if one of us gets sick or an immediate medical decision has to be made? What happens if one of us dies and his family wants to cremate him, but he wanted a burial. It seems morbid to think about these things, but it’s the reality of adulting. So my partner and I began the steps to ensure that even though we never wanted to get married, that we would have rights in place to make legal decisions regarding our health, money and our tiny home as if we were husband and wife, because even though we didn’t want or need the paper work to prove it— that’s exactly what we were — husband and wife. With those systems in place, we felt secure and it’s something I recommend everyone does.

The first thing you need to have in place is a power of attorney.

Even though my partner and I keep separate bank accounts we needed to be able to access that money if something happens to one of us or incase of an emergency. In his, case to make sure that his mother is taken care of and in my case to make sure that my son and my grandmother are taken care. A power of attorney “is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal, grantor, or donor.”

The second thing you need to have in place is a medical proxy or a health care proxy.

It is a legal document “with which a patient (primary individual) appoints an agent to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient when he or she is incapable of making and executing the healthcare decisions stipulated in the proxy.” We both trusted each other enough to make these executive decisions. I know that my family would make a decision based on emotion and my partner would be able to weigh it all out and make the best decision when it came to my health. He trusts me to do the same.

The third thing you need to have in place is a will.

A will “or testament is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution.” This is to protect the execution of our individual assets. To make sure that my son gets certain things to protect his future. For my partner, it was to make sure that his children’s future was protected as well. You want to make sure that you give a copy of your will to your partner and trusted family members.

Last but not least, life insurance that includes final expense insurance to cover funeral costs.

Life insurance is when the insurance company promises “to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money in exchange for a premium, upon the death of an insured person.” My partner lost a brother before we met and he explained to me how every family member had to contribute funds to cover his brothers funeral expenses. We knew this was not a burden we wanted to leave on our family. We wanted this expense to be covered and we also wanted money to be left to our family for whatever they needed it for. For me, again, it was for my son’s future. For him to make sure his brothers and mother were taken care of.

The realities of being in love, not being married and living tiny are incredibly rewarding.

We share an incredible life together and we want to protect our future. As for what happens if we break up? Well, our goal is to NEVER break up, we love each other…but if we do, we have legal documents stating that one of us will buy out the other for a specific amount or sell our skoolie and split the profits. You enable these systems in place not out of fear, but out of love for what you have built together and for the safety of your future and your family’s future..

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