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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in Sacramento

May 2, 2013

All across the nation, states and communities are struggling with their views on same-sex marriage. While many aspects of the issue are being debated, voted on, appealed, and so much more, that doesn’t change the fact that same-sex couples in Sacramento need to have legal protection to ensure their estate planning wishes are met and protected.

In order to ensure you are following the letter of the law, your best bet is to find a lawyer with experience in estate planning for same-sex couples in Sacramento. This person will have a good understanding of the issues to be addressed as well as how current laws are being interpreted by the legal system.

Keep in mind that both estate planning laws and domestic partnership, marriage, and related laws are continually in flux. What was true when Bob and Gary did their estate planning may have changed drastically now that Anita and Jane are getting their planning in order.

Not only are there ongoing changes to California estate planning laws and their meanings for same-sex couples, but they vary from state to state, which can affect those who have residences outside of California or even those who travel.

Some of the issues you’ll want to discuss with your estate planning attorney include:

  • Can we use “right of survivorship?”
  • Should I name my partner as the beneficiary of my will?
  • Is some kind of a trust a better option for our situation?
  • What kind of taxes will my partner be expected to pay?
  • How can I ensure my IRA or 401(k) will go to my partner?
  • Will my partner have rights in the event of my death or incapacity?
  • Will my partner be able to make medical decisions for me?

Of course, if you and your partner have children, there can be even more estate planning issues to contend with. You will definitely want an attorney involved to help protect the surviving partner’s rights to your children. There are a few different tools that can be helpful in this situation, and it’s not recommended to simply rely on naming the partner as the child’s legal guardian.

It’s the unfortunate truth that same-sex couples currently have a larger estate-planning burden than their married heterosexual counterparts. From setting up a domestic partnership to adopting children to naming beneficiaries, there are many legal aspects of same-sex partnerships that need to be addressed in order to provide even similar protections as those granted by a legal marriage in California.

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A wonderful job! After watching my family deal with litigation after a death, this is so important for everyone, young and old.

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