As a result, they wait far too long before putting a plan in place. Intestate succession laws vary by state, so knowing exactly what would happen requires an examination of the specific state law that applies. Since , federal law has required nearly all hospitals to allow visitation for same-sex couples. What's more, estate planning is not a "one-and-done" task. Review the beneficiary designations of your life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts and, in some cases, bank and brokerage accounts to make sure that you have actually named beneficiaries and that they reflect your current wishes. Since then, same-sex married couples have had access to all the estate planning tools that heterosexual spouses have been taking advantage of for years. While using a will to distribute assets is generally undesirable because it means that your loved ones will be forced to go through the court-administered probate process, a will can still be an efficient tool for purposes of establishing guardianship, communicating final wishes, and ensuring that any assets that fall outside of your other estate planning documents will still be governed by your estate plan as opposed to the laws of intestate succession. While a will is an important first step, you may need to do more. Which keepsakes should remain with which of your children?
Think about medical needs Same-sex spouses tend to be challenged more often than heterosexual spouses when they need to make medical decisions for partners who are incapacitated or unable to communicate, Burda notes. If a same-sex couple does not yet have an estate plan, we recommend that they think about putting one in place. Surviving spouses must elect it by filing Form with the IRS, depending on whether an estate tax return was otherwise required to be filed. Same-sex married couples can gift or pass an unlimited amount of assets or property to each other without needing to use any gift or estate tax exemptions. Now, how do you make it happen? Summary Now that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, we recommend that same-sex couples review their estate plans and make sure that the plan protects all of their interests. Trusts Keys takeaways If you die without a will, your state may not recognize your partner as your natural heir. As a result, same-sex marriage is now legal in several states where it had previously been banned, either by state statute or by state constitutional amendment. While using a will to distribute assets is generally undesirable because it means that your loved ones will be forced to go through the court-administered probate process, a will can still be an efficient tool for purposes of establishing guardianship, communicating final wishes, and ensuring that any assets that fall outside of your other estate planning documents will still be governed by your estate plan as opposed to the laws of intestate succession. If only one spouse or partner is legally recognized as the parent, adding a trust with certain provisions can at least ensure the non-legal parent remains in contact with the child if someone else becomes the guardian, she adds. Consider these important financial topics as you weigh the pros and cons of marriage vs. The other option that we will discuss with clients is setting up a revocable trust. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. However, since same-sex marriage was not recognized in all 50 states until recently, same-sex couples had to be careful when drafting their estate plans. When you started your retirement savings account or opened your life insurance policy, who did you name as your beneficiary or beneficiaries? When one spouse dies provided both spouses are U. Here are just a few examples: The revocable living trust is a popular option for a variety of reasons, and irrevocable trusts can serve special purposes while also providing enhanced asset protection. Four things to talk with your partner about now In , in the Obergefell v. Same-sex couples especially need to document their wishes, she says. And as always, we recommend that every couple have an effective, thoughtful, and up-to-date estate plan in place so that their wishes are carried out and so they are able to leave a legacy for their families and friends. In New Hampshire, there is a six-month creditor claim period for probate estates, meaning the estate has to remain open for at least 6 months. By signing these three documents clients can ensure that their wishes are followed with regard to their health care and distribution of assets. Here are five steps that pros say same-sex couples can take to get started with estate plans. A springing power of attorney, for example, allows someone else to handle your financial matters if you become unable to do it on your own, Stallard says. Speaking of probate — the costs, time commitment, emotional burdens, and inherent uncertainty of the probate process all provide strong incentives to have an estate plan as well. Answering these types of questions will help you start to see the bigger picture and make decisions that will protect your wealth and your family for decades to come.
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