Friday, July 8, 2011

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples & Unmarried Life Partners

Same-sex couples and unmarried partners are confronted with many legal uncertainties due to the varying degrees of protection afforded them by the federal and state governments. Changes in state and federal law create a patchwork of protection for these couples.

Comprehensive planning is essential to protect inheritance rights, property distribution, and medical and final arrangement decisions. Tax planning and retitling are necessary to avoid unintended consequences.

Bodies of Law that affect unmarried but committed individuals:
 Probate Laws
 Domestic Relations Laws
 Disability Laws
 Tax Laws
What Benefits does marriage (as recognized by the federal government) confer?
 Property Rights
 Tenancy by the Entireties
 Homestead
 Corporate Benefits
 Pensions and Social Security
 Divorce
 Inheritance Rights
 Spousal Elective Share
 Probate Preferences
 Taxes

Other Rights Include Legal Standing in Personal Injury Cases
 Loss of Consortium
 Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress/Wrongful Death
 Other Rights
 Spousal Privileges (Testimony & Communication)
 Family Medical Leave Act
 Health Care Rules/Guardianship
 Premarital Agreements
 Adoption

What tools do I employ, as an Estate Planning Attorney?
 Life Alliance Agreements - non-marital agreement between unmarried persons
 Estate Planning Strategies
 Comprehensive Will package
 Comprehensive Trust package
Until the laws change, it’s important to plan accordingly so that your loved ones will be protected, and your wishes carried out.