Estate Planning Implications for Same-Sex Couples

The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states can no longer ban same sex marriage, effectively allowing same-sex couples to enter into the binding contract of marriage.

The ruling cited the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause that guarantees all people equal protection under the laws of both the federal and state governments.

It is a monumental case that will have implications for same-sex couples across the country, many of whom can now receive the benefits that marriage guarantees. Issues such as child custody, property rights, death benefits, and intestacy claims can now have direct implications for same-sex couples.

This development will undoubtedly raise a lot of questions for same-sex couples who either already have a valid marriage in a state where same-sex marriage was legal before Obergefell, or who choose to marry now or in the future.

How Does Marriage Affect Inheritance?

Our Lexington and Dayton estate planning lawyers are acutely aware of how important the institution of marriage is to probate and intestacy laws, both of which likely did not apply to same-sex couples before Obergefell.

When a person dies without creating a will or a trust, all of their probate property (property that does not pass by operation of law, such as jointly owned land, and property without a beneficiary designation, such as a life insurance policy), are automatically subject to the state’s intestacy laws. In almost every single case, the spousal partner of the deceased is guaranteed the inheritance to the estate. These laws now apply to married same-sex couples as well, which will obviously create the need for same-sex couples to consider estate planning for themselves.

Why Should I Contact Wiggins & Hall Law Group?

Creating a will or trust is the fastest way to transfer your property to your partner in the event of your death. You may also want to grant power of attorney to your same-sex partner, either for health care or financial issues, giving them decision-making powers should you become incapacitated before your death.

The estate planning attorneys at Wiggins & Hall Law Group can help you plan for the future according to your family and financial goals. Whether you are looking to write a will or establish a trust, we can help ensure that your goals are met and your legacy is protected. Contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys.

2017-11-21T10:56:29+00:00July 14th, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|
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