Estate planning is complicated and confusing, but even more so for same-sex couples. Since most states don’t have separate laws for same-sex individuals or domestic partnerships, it is imperative that you seek professional help for your estate plan. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help iron out the complications, such as property transfers, estate tax and beneficiary designations.
If you name your partner as your beneficiary in your will, the courts will honor your request, but that doesn’t mean your family will agree to it. Same-sex couples are prone to having wills contested by their families. Unfortunately, the courts may side with the family, leaving a partner with no inheritance. You can avoid this courtroom battle by transferring assets to your partner through a living trust. A living trust helps your estate avoid the cost and emotional pitfalls associated with probate court and prevents any will contests that can leave your partner with nothing.
Most states don’t allow same-sex couples to share custody of children — whether they’re adopted or natural born. You can specify in your will who will be the guardian of any minor children. You must also name your partner as the trustee of your children’s designated trusts. By doing so, you can at least guarantee visitation if family members contest your guardianship wishes.
Speak with a qualified estate planning professional when you’re ready to draft an estate plan. While creating an estate plan can help protect your partner, having the professional guidance of an estate planning attorney is imperative to lower your chances of a will contest.