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Estate Planning for LGBT Families

Since the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling from the United States Supreme Court that made same-sex marriage legal across the country, LGBT families should be prepared for the major financial implications resulting from that decision.  Beyond taking advantage of filing joint tax returns, same-sex couples are now able to avail themselves of the same estate planning benefits that were once only available to opposite-sex couples.

Today, estate planning for same-sex couples is easier and more straightforward.  Here are a few things to consider when starting a same-sex life partnership.

Create a Will

Forgetting, avoiding or simply not bothering to create your will is a big mistake.  Your will protects your assets and your wishes in the event of your death.  Will creation is important for LGBT families because it properly divides your assets according to your wishes, helps to prevent expensive probate problems and provides guardianship for your minor children.  Close to 65% of Americans do not have a will in place which leaves their loved ones unprotected in the event of their death.  LGBT families are not immune to the complications of dying without a will in place so it is important for both partners in a same-sex marriage to create a will as soon as possible.

Include a Power of Attorney

Many married couples assume that a spouse is automatically granted power of attorney over the other partner’s affairs.  However, regardless of the details of the relationship, a power of attorney must be executed.  A power of attorney allows you to make financial and healthcare decisions on behalf of your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Changes

It’s a good idea to ensure that a same-sex estate planning strategy anticipates the unexpected and the undesirable.  For example, if the Supreme Court’s decision is overturned in the future, having the following documents in order will help same-sex couples to be more prepared.

  • A Domestic Partnership Agreement for plans pertaining to income, expenses, property and custody of minor children.
  • A Living Will to articulate guardianship, succession and the executor of your estate.
  • A Living Trust provides you with more control over who will receive your assets after you pass.

In the event that same-sex marriage in the United States experiences further legal challenges, be prepared by talking to a trusted estate planning attorney in Pittsburgh about the above considerations.

Let us help you plan for the future.  To discuss your specific needs with an estate planning attorney in Pittsburgh, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online.