Same-Sex Couples and Estate Planning

“Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage; 11 states have had their bans on same-sex marriage struck down by the courts. Some states recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships, giving couples some legal rights, while some states do not recognize any legal rights for same-sex couples”, writes Karen Demasters in yesterday’s Financial Advisor.

Financial and estate planning for heterosexual married couples is complicated enough, add to the mix changing laws from state to state, day by day and the maze that is estate planning may seem impossibly daunting. If you are a same-sex couple you MUST have an estate plan. While our country is in flux over same-sex marriage, members of the LGBT community must protect them selves. What is a legal marriage today may not be tomorrow.

Marriage may give you the right to visit your spouse in the hospital, but what if you’re traveling in a state that does not recognize your marriage? If you live in a state that has not yet legalized same-sex marriages you need some documentation expressing what you would like to leave your partner. Legally your partner may be entitled to nothing, even if you have been together for longer than most marriages last. Health Care Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney, Wills, and a Trust are all essential documents for every same sex-couple.

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