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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Friday, August 16, 2019

What Same-Sex Couples Should Know About Estate Planning

People often find that estate planning is complicated and confusing. It is not difficult to understand why estate planning for same-sex couples can seem even more complex regardless of whether or not you are married. Luckily, estate planning for same-sex couples doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult to understand. With the law constantly changing, it’s to consult with a California estate planning attorney with experience in estate planning for the LGBTQ community. 

Same-Sex Couples See Same Rights

Before 2015 when the United States Supreme Court upheld the rights of same-sex couples to marry in every state, estate planning for same-sex couples was deemed difficult to understand. But now that all 50 states recognize same-sex marriage, these married couples are entitled to the same rights that heterosexual couples have been entitled to. Married same-sex couples are now eligible for the same tax breaks that have been provided to opposite-sex married couples. 

Estate planning is sometimes avoided, as it forces us to acknowledge our own mortality. If you are looking for the best time to plan for your estate, it was yesterday. Fortunately, the second-best time is today. When it comes to your estate plan, it is smarter to be proactive rather than reactive. Those unmarried couples in domestic partnerships who don’t get around to estate planning often run the risk of leaving their partner with nothing when they do pass. 

Without the right estate planning documents, you will have no legal authority to access your partner’s health records and will be unable to make decisions regarding their medical care. It may prove difficult to access your distribution of benefits when your partner passes. 

Passing Away Without an Estate Plan

Usually, when an individual passes intestate (without a will), the property automatically goes to specific heirs of the estate (e.g. children if they have any). But for those who were not married at the time of their passing, their property will not automatically pass to their partner. Furthermore, as their partner, you may experience difficulty establishing standing to open a probate estate.

In other words, if you are in a same-sex relationship and are not married, you must plan – even minimally – should you desire for your partner to receive any property or benefits when you pass. Additionally, you must be sure to designate someone to make medical decisions for you should you be found legally incapacitated. Basic estate planning documents include:

  • A Last Will and Testament
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Revocable Living Trust

Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning, Inc. Helps Create Estate Plans for Same-Sex Couples in California 

Although estate planning can be quite complex, it is extremely important and should not be shied away from. It is best to consult with a knowledgeable California estate planning attorney who has experience working with individuals in the LGBTQ community. At Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning, Inc. we can help to walk you through the process of estate planning to ensure that you and your loved ones be protected and that your wishes be honored. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 925-275-5509 today!


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