For most people, estate planning seems straightforward and simple. For same-sex couples, it is important that you give the process careful consideration to protect your interests. Despite the legal protections awarded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, same-sex couples still find that estate law falls short.
There are a few key considerations for comprehensive estate planning for same-sex couples.
A trust helps ensure asset distribution
Same-sex couples benefit from a revocable living trust because it protects against probate issues in the event of incapacitation. Without this type of trust, the court may appoint a third-party guardian to make decisions and administer the probate estate. Creating a trust protects the assets of the estate and ensures that your spouse or a person of your choosing makes decisions for you.
Joint ownership and survivorship help
If you have concerns about either party’s ability to access funds from bank accounts, investment accounts or real estate holdings, make sure both of you have joint ownership. That joint ownership with survivorship rights ensures that the surviving spouse has control of those funds as needed.
Custody establishment matters
In a same-sex marriage where only one spouse is biologically related to the couple’s children, the other parent should file adoption papers to preserve their custodial rights. Guardianship documents in the estate plan can also help ensure that the child remains with the surviving parent.
Be proactive about protecting both of your rights in the event that either of you becomes incapacitated or deceased. Understanding the challenges for same-sex couples in estate planning makes it easier to overcome those hurdles.