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Same-sex couples have unique estate plan needs

With same-sex marriage under nearly constant attack within the state of Oklahoma, many couples are concerned about how to create an estate planning package that protects their interests. This is a serious matter, as individuals who die without any form of estate plan will become subject to the probate process, in which a court will decide the ultimate distribution of assets. That outcome is difficult to predict, especially in a political environment in which same-sex marriage is not without challenge.  

Same-sex couples should begin by drafting wills that clearly outline which assets they wish for their partner to inherit. It is also a good idea to check the beneficiary designations on all banking, retirement and investment accounts, to be sure that the proper individual(s) are named. The assets held within these accounts will pass to the named beneficiary, regardless of what is stated within a will.

Another consideration involves drafting a health care or financial power of attorney. These documents grant the authority for an individual to make health or financial decisions for a person who is incapacitated due to illness or injury. Without these documents in place, directing the course of care for one's partner can become a minefield of complications.

Same-sex couples are likely watching to see how the Supreme Court will rule on several cases addressing gay marriage, as the outcome could be a ruling that all states recognize these types of unions. That said, the issue remains under heavy debate, and there are many cases before courts across the nation. The best way for Oklahoma couples to protect both partners is to create a thorough estate plan that covers all of the bases.

Source: fa-mag.com, "Same-Sex Couples Need Financial, Estate Planning", Karen DeMasters, May 26, 2015

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