In recent years there have been many changes to laws in regards to same-sex marriages. However, same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states which means LGBT couples can benefit from the same legal benefits of marriage as different-sex couples. However, if a same-sex couple is not married, there are certain considerations they must take into account when estate planning. This will ensure after they’ve died their surviving partner has legal access to certain things. Regardless of what type of relationship you are in it is crucial to have an up-to-date estate plan. If you need help creating a successful estate plan, contact a knowledgeable Montgomery County Estate Planning Attorney who can help you protect your hard-earned assets and ensure they are distributed to whomever you desire after you’ve departed.
What special considerations should unmarried LGBT couples take into account when estate planning?
There are special considerations unmarried LGBT couples must take into account when creating an estate plan to ensure their relationship is recognized after one partner dies. LGBT couples should consider the following when estate planning:
- Create a will. It is important for individuals to create an up-to-date will that allows them to dictate and specify how they want their assets divided and distributed after they’ve departed. It is critical for individuals who want their assets to be inherited or passed down to specify who they wish to inherit them once they’ve passed. Additionally, a will allows individuals to appoint a legal guardian for their children. In Maryland, if an individual dies without a will and is unmarried, their surviving partner will not receive any property left by the decedent. Instead, the decedent’s relatives will receive it. Furthermore, LGBT couples should consider making a living trust as well to ensure their hard-earned assets are transferred to whomever they desire after they’ve died.
- Avoid probate. When creating an estate plan LGBT couples should consider taking steps to circumvent the process of probate as it can save their families time and money. Decedent’s heirs do not receive any benefits from the process of probate. Although it can be difficult to avoid probate it is possible if an LGBT couple creates a living trust, has joint ownership, or Transfer-on-Death Accounts and Registrations. Furthermore, LGBT couples that are not married will not be exempt from federal estate taxes. It is pertinent to assess different ways these taxes can be reduced.
- Appoint a Power of Attorney (POA). In the unfortunate event that an individual becomes incapacitated, their designated POA is given control over their loved one’s finances and medical authority. For unmarried LGBT couples, this grants a living partner the power to make decisions on behalf of their incapacitated partner. Additionally, individuals should make a health care directive that allows them to dictate their end-of-life health care plan.
Ultimately, there are certain considerations unmarried LGBT couples should take into account when estate planning. If you are interested in creating an estate plan to ensure your hard-earned assets are divided and distributed as you wish after you’ve departed, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our trusted and knowledgeable team members. Our firm is ready to help you create an estate plan today.