Estate planning is for single people, married people, gay people, lesbian people, straight people, transgender people and the list goes on. Why you ask? Well… I hate to let out the secret but… we will all die one day. At Meissner Joseph Palley & Ruggles we have done estate planning for the LGBTQ community, un-married couples and other “non-traditional” families for many years. In fact, we were providing legal expertise to these underserved people long before it was “in.” We can do joint trusts or separate trusts as you desire. The range of estate planning options are the same for gay couples as straight couples. The laws have been changing quickly in recent years and the need for estate planning is there.
Some background information for you….
In Obergefell v. Hodges The US Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. This simplifies much not all issues that can play into estate planning for gay couples. Certainly here in California, which is where we are licensed to practice law, the landscape is clear and estate planning options are plentiful!
Amazing in ways. I read the following on the nolo.com website regarding their efforts in the LGBTQ community:
“In Nolo’s first edition of A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples – published 35 years ago – the authors focused primarily on anti-gay discrimination and the multiple areas of law where same-sex couples had no rights. The book dedicated a full chapter to a discussion of the majority of states that still criminalized same-sex relations. At the time, all states banned co-parent adoptions for same-sex couples, and the only discussion of marriage was a lengthy treatise on how best to resolve the conflicts that arise when lesbians or gay men try to end their opposite-sex marriages. But, even then, same-sex couples could obtain some legal protections through private contracts, such as a power of attorney, a will, or an agreement to co-own a home or share income. A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples was written to help same-sex partners understand what legal options were available to help them protect their property and families.”
While most of us agree our country has come a long way the need for estate planning remains. Gay, straight, or whatever… you should do your estate planning!
What about common law marriages? Though California does not provide for common law marriage for it’s residents California law does provide for common law status to be honored at death if you qualified for common law marriage in a state of previous residence. This can be a significant issue in both estate planning and probate. Know your rights!