Estate Planning for Same-Sex, Unmarried Couples

You may think the love and responsibilities you share with your partner are exactly the same as that of your non-gay family and friends, but traditionally, the law saw it another way. Historically, the laws did not recognize the same rights and privileges for same-sex couples. At least not until 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states in the landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges.

A marriage bestows concrete legal and tax benefits to both spouses. Unmarried couples lack the concrete tax, inheritance, and employment benefits as married couples. For unmarried couples, these benefits must be created through the use of estate planning documents and contracts. For anyone in an unmarried partnership, it is important to have some form of estate planning in order to avoid disinheriting your partner. If you do not have an appropriate plan in place, state law will take over, your assets will be tied up in the lengthy and expensive probate process and ultimately distributed according to a “one-way-fits-all” system which may not reflect your intent.

An estate planning attorney can help you put the documents into place, including a revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, advance health care directive, and HIPAA authorization, which will protect you during life, enable your partner to have meaningful participation in case of an emergency and provide for your partner and loved ones upon your death in the fastest and most cost effective method available.