While the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage created new opportunities for same sex couples to benefit from estate planning strategies and to better protect their interests after an accident or illness, challenges remain for many LGBTQ individuals, Shelly Gigante points out in a MassMutual blog post.
Gigante mentions three particular aspects of planning that present challenges for same sex couples:
- documents drafted prior to 2015 that have language inconsistent with current law
- family members who are unaccepting of the union
- adoptions by non-biological parents
At Geyer Law, our estate planning process for same sex couples includes the creation of four documents, which, while essential for all couples, often assume particular importance in protecting the rights of same sex partners. Three of these documents are health-related:
- Living will – details each partner’s wishes relating to end-of-life care measures
- Health care power of attorney – designates a person to make medical decisions on behalf of the individual
- HIPAA privacy authorization – allows doctors to disclose information to the health care power of attorney
The fourth document, a durable financial power of attorney, designates someone to handle financial affairs in case the individual becomes incapacitated or unable to handle financial affairs personally.
Needless to say, estate planning encompasses many other aspects of concern to same-sex couples, including protecting assets, avoiding tax, and protecting the rights of a same-sex partner’s biological or adopted children.
Since laws are different in each state, and since no couple is the same, your estate plan must be customized to meet your challenges and to match your goals.
– by Cara Chittenden, Associate Attorney at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates