With the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015 making same-sex marriage legal across the country, LGBTQ couples can now reap the same benefits as other couples. However, not all same-sex couples are married, and not all states recognize these unions but must comply with federal law. Luckily, estate planning for LGTBQ couples is easy in California. Regardless of your marriage status, ensuring you and your long-term partner have an estate plan is vital. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about taking control of your future and how a Woodland Hills, California estate planning attorney can help.
Do LGBTQ Couples Need to Be Married to Create an Estate Plan?
Contrary to popular belief, couples do not need to be married to start planning their estate. Like heterosexual couples, estate planning, regardless of marital status, is essential.
Without an estate plan, you or your partner could pass without a will, which is a process known as intestacy. In this case, the estate would be distributed according to California law instead of your wishes. This means your partner may not receive your shared home, property, or finances if their name is not on the accounts or in a will. Instead, the state will follow intestate succession laws and give your property to family members.
What Should My Plan Include?
The most crucial document LGBTQ couples should plan is a will. Often considered the most essential estate planning tool, a will allows you to distribute property, funds, stocks, and other assets according to your wishes. If you have children, it also allows you to name who you would like to assume legal guardianship of minors, which can help provide peace of mind for you and your spouse.
You should also consider creating a healthcare directive, especially if you are not married. A living will allows you to detail what care you would or would not like to receive should you become incapacitated and unable to make your own medical decisions. You should also create a power of attorney document, which allows your partner to make health decisions for you, should you become unable to make choices yourself.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you want to begin planning your estate with your partner, reaching out to an attorney is essential to ensuring that you take the legal steps necessary to protect your property. Though there are plenty of “DIY” estate planning kits online, enlisting the help of an attorney is recommended. The last thing you want is for your plan to be invalid because of an oversight that a lawyer would have spotted.
When you and your partner decide to plan your estate, the Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman are here to help. We have the experience necessary to make planning as easy as possible, allowing you to achieve peace of mind. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start; reach out today to get started.