This US-centric post contains information that may or may not apply in other countries. I am not a lawyer, this post is for information purposes only. Not much changed here, but I fixed a few broken links and checked that Rocket Lawyer is still up and running. They are, and it looks like you can do most Power of Attorney paperwork there for free now. Updated October 6, 2016
A common piece of practical advice for polyam folk is “set up medical power of attorney.” But most people I’ve spoken with never do. Why? Well, people often expect legal stuff to be complicated, expensive and time-consuming. And hey, I’m healthy, right? I’ll take care of it when I have the money, can afford a lawyer, have the time to research… and it gets pushed behind all the daily concerns of bills, family and relationship stuff.
If you haven’t set up a medical power of attorney yet, you should as soon as possible, for a lot of important reasons. But, that there are other things you can do with a power of attorney. Power of attorney can give anyone the financial, medical, and property powers and rights that a legally married spouse has. And you can revoke a power of attorney at any time. Just give your agent(s) (the person(s) you gave power of attorney) a statement saying that you are revoking your power of attorney. So you don’t need to worry about being trapped in an agreement.
In my research for this post, I stumbled across a great site for US polyam folk called Rocket Lawyer. They have an easy set up to create a personalized power of attorney with all the proper legalese. Their ‘interview’ questions cover everything you need to set up power of attorney. Then the site auto-generates the proper legal paperwork. It also includes the ability to give the power of attorney to multiple people. Rocket Lawyer charges for some services and offers others for free. The services it charges for are a lot cheaper than hiring your own attorney.
If you know of similar resources for polyam folk in other countries, please leave a link in the comments!
For a polyamorous relationship, it’s a good idea to set up two separate power of attorney forms:
- Specific financial/legal rights–you can pay each other’s bills, talk to the IRS on behalf of your spice, or whatever day-to-day rights would suit your relationships. This can be set up to go into effect as soon as it is signed and/or filed.
- Durable medical power of attorney–set to go into effect if you are unable to make decisions for your own medical care. This allows your spice to take over your medical decisions when (and only when) you are incapacitated.
Not all polyam folks will need both kinds of power of attorney. If you only want to have a highly entwined relationship with one person, and you are legally married o that person, no power of attorney needed.
If you are legally married to someone and want that person making decisions for you if you are medically incapacitated, no medical power of attorney needed. If either or both of these are not the case, having power of attorney set up will protect you and your polyam partners.
A power of attorney to give rights to polyam partners will be more likely to face challenges than normal. Sadly, being in a non-mainstream relationship style will do that. However, as long as you are of sound mind when you sign the form, any challenge should get tossed out.
You can protect your power of attorney by making an appointment with your doctor before signing the power of attorney. Ask them for a statement that you are of sound mind. Keep this statement with the original copy of the signed power of attorney.
Every state has slightly different laws regarding power of attorney. Rocketlawyer.com is set up to incorporate the requirements of each individual state. The site will give you specific instructions on what to do after you print out the form to make it legally binding. If you don’t have a medical power of attorney and need one, I really suggest you pop over and set one up. That way, if something does happen, your polyam partners will be involved in your care and treatment.
If you choose not to use RocketLawyer, there are other internet sites where you can get a generic medical power of attorney. Or you can talk with a lawyer, or (in some states) write the document yourself.
Seriously, this is about protecting you and your polyam partners. It is not nearly as complicated or expensive as many people assume.
(Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Rocket Lawyer and receive no compensation for recommending them.)