Many people find estate planning to be somewhat confusing, but for same-sex couples it can seem quite complex – regardless of whether or not they are married. The good news is that estate planning for same-sex couples does not have to be so complex or confusing. As the law continues to evolve, it is important to consult with an estate planning attorney who has experience with estate planning for individuals and couples in the LGBTQ community.
Right to Marry
In 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court found that same-sex couples have the right to marry in every state. Prior to this landmark case estate planning for same-sex couples was much more complicated. However, now that all states recognize same-sex marriage, same-sex couples are entitled to the same tax breaks as those in opposite-sex marriage.
Although estate planning can bring up the fear of aging and death for many of us, it is much wiser to be proactive when it comes to preparing for the future. In fact, those unmarried couples that do not do so often face the risk of leaving no assets to their partner when they pass.
An absence of estate planning documents can present many issues for those in domestic partnerships. They risk the ability to legally access their partner’s health records or to be able to make decisions on their behalf regarding medical care. Additionally, inheriting a partner’s property can be very difficult sans estate planning documents.
Dying Intestate (Without a Will/Estate Plan)
There is a set ranking of inheritance when an individual passes intestate (without a will). The property of the individual in this situation would go to specific heirs first. However, those who are not married will not have their property pass to their partner automatically. Partners may have much difficulty with establishing standing to open a probate estate.
In other words, if you are in a same-sex – or opposite-sex – relationship and are not married, it is extremely important that you at least execute a minimal estate plan in order for your desired loved ones to receive your property or benefits. You must also be sure to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you should become incapacitated.
Planning documents include:
- Last Will and Testament
- Revocable Living Trust
- Living Will
- Beneficiary Designations
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
Biddle Law Can Help Same-Sex Couples with Estate Planning
Whether you are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple (or have married and not planned for your future in these ways), it is extremely important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced estate-planning attorney who can answer any questions you may have and walk you through the process. At Biddle Law, we care about your future together and want to assist in protecting it. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!