Domestic partners—same sex or not—have to address slightly different concerns when making plans for their estate. That’s because the law provides married couples with the ability to automatically transfer assets to the surviving spouse upon the death of one spouse, and these assets aren’t taxed. Same-sex couples and domestic partners can achieve the same result with a little planning.
For couples with assets worth less than $2 million, this planning is a little less complicated. First, you want to make sure your partner is named as the beneficiary on all documents, in addition to being named in a will. It’s also wise to establish trusts in each of your children’s names so that assets are clearly distributed and you can avoid probate.
You should also make sure that both partners have living wills that name the other partner, as well as health care proxies, hospital visitation authorizations and durable power of attorney. All specific end-of-life care and last wishes should be spelled out in these documents. It’s also helpful to have a domestic partnership agreement that details what each partner contributes to the relationship.
Lastly, if at any time your relationship status changes, or your partner dies, it’s important to go back through all of your documentation and update your beneficiaries, POA, health care proxy, and your living will. If these documents do not agree at the time of your passing, it can lead to a lengthy probate process. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine the best way to structure these documents.
Over the past 31 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.