Estate planning is important for all couples but is particularly important for same-sex couples. Though federal law recognizes same-sex unions in all 50 states, state laws may not, making it particularly important to specify your wishes regarding medical care, asset division and the care of minor children.
What should same-sex couples know about estate planning?
The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 made same-sex marriage legal at the federal level. However, state laws can still affect the estates of people in a same-sex marriage. Before November of 2014, Missouri law banned same-sex marriages. If you married your current or former partner before this date, you may want to consult with an attorney about your current legal status.
Couples with minor children need a will to establish who gets custody of their children when one or both partners die. It is also a good idea to make sure your will details what happens to your assets when the last surviving partner dies.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney allows you to specify who can make medical, financial or other decisions for you if you become incapable of making them yourself.
If you have family members who do not recognize your same-sex marriage, they may try to contest your will. Establishing a trust while you are living can reduce the opportunity for these types of contests because trusts usually do not go through probate.
Medical providers, courts and families tend to challenge the rights of a surviving spouse in a same-sex marriage more than heterosexual couples. This makes it particularly important to plan carefully.