Estate Planning for LGBTQ Families
Love is love. In the 2015 landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to marry as one of the fundamental liberties it protects for same-sex couples. According to the Williams Institute, it's estimated that same-sex marriages doubled! in the first five years after marriage equality was granted, resulting in an estimated $3.8 billion in additional spending on weddings supporting an additional 45,000 jobs for at least a year. (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/econ-impact-obergefell-5-years). Love is love.
Now, the same tools used to avoid the headache and nightmare of courts and the IRS with estate planning are available for all married couples and registered domestic partners. Estate planning is no less important than it was before - but the options have expanded to make planning easier. Trusts to avoid probate and estate taxes are easier for same-sex married couples than they were before; community property rights inure to same-sex married couples to avoid significant capital gains tax when a spouse dies; and the rights and responsibilities afforded a spouse for making financial and medical decisions are now enshrined for same-sex married couples. As allies, we are proud to represent many same-sex married couples in their estate planning.
However, not all same-sex couples rushed to the Courthouse to get married after the Obergefell decision. Many couples had been happily partnered without a marriage license, and getting married could complicate matters in their relationship. For those same-sex couples that remain unmarried, don't ever let a lawyer be the one to tell you that marriage is the only answer (and trust me... I'm a lawyer)! However, estate planning can be more important for unmarried partners as the law does not grant any non-spouse the right to address financial, or medical, issues during incapacity... and the law surely doesn't allow a partner to inherit automatically when a partner dies, regardless of the length of the relationship. We regularly help unmarried same-sex couples with the most important planning to avoid complications with courts and disapproving family members to ensure that our client's wishes will be defended.
We are happy to provide free consultations for anyone interested in learning their options to protect their estate, whether married, partnered, or otherwise. Contact us today to let us know how we can help you plan for your future.