Inheritance laws offer some protection to spouses, but rarely to unmarried partners, when a will and other estate planning documents do not exist. Even if you’ve drafted a contractual agreement between the two of you regarding disposition of assets, inheritance laws and other biases can affect how a judge or a relative will carry out your wishes.
In an ideal world, same-sex couples would not have to worry about this. However, even in Minnesota, some judges, court and government personnel still harbor rigid and hidden personal biases. It is prudent to be very thorough, plan for all contingencies and commit your intentions to proper legal documents when doing your estate planning.
Everyone Benefits When You Make Your Intentions Clear in Writing
Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should have an estate plan. Whether you have one is not dependent on how much money you make or how many assets you own. An estate plan addresses more than just those two issues. A proper plan helps you anticipate future questions and problems and resolve them in advance. Your estate plan details how you want to handle all important decisions, now and in the future.
Estate Planning When Children Are Involved
Many same-sex couples have adopted children or biological children from previous relationships, artificial insemination or surrogacy. If your children were born or adopted before same-sex marriage became legal, you’ll want to ensure that the law recognizes your legal relationship with your children.
Additionally, simply because you’ve listed your name on a child’s birth certificate, it does not mean that you have any legal rights as a parent. If one of you is not a biological parent, you could lose the right to see your children if your spouse or partner dies. We can review any existing documents to ensure that they are up-to-date to protect you and your children. Protect your relationship with your child through proper estate planning.
Distributing Assets via an Estate Plan
In your will, you can decide to whom you wish to leave your property, as well as make specific exclusions. If you die without leaving a will, there are laws governing distribution of your personal and real property to others. Unfortunately, these laws may force the person administering your estate to give some or all your property to someone other than your preferred heir. In some instances, your partner could be left with little or nothing if you do not draft a will.
Don’t Leave Anything to Chance
We will meet with you and review every issue that could affect your family and assets if you die or become incapacitated. Estate planning for same-sex couples is very complex, especially when children are involved. Even if you already have an estate plan in place, you should meet with us to ensure that your plan meets your current needs.
Your situation has probably changed since you drafted your documents. If you’ve added children to your family, married or remained unmarried, or accumulated additional assets, it is even more important to review your plan or get one in place as soon as possible.
If you have questions, reach out to an experienced estate planning lawyer. Your lawyer can help protect your family, your heirs, your assets and your peace of mind.