4 Estate Planning Tips for Same Sex Partners

4 Estate Planning Tips for Same Sex Partners

By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions

The U.S. Supreme Court guaranteed same sex couples the right to marry in 2015. Though same sex couples generally, married or unmarried, have similar estate planning needs to heterosexual couples, there are some unique needs to consider.

Here are 4 estate planning tips for same sex partners.

(1) Documents You Need

Estate plans often include 2 kinds of documents: (1) those for death, and (2) those for incapacity. The documents needed for death are Wills and/or Trusts, beneficiary forms, burial wishes, and a list of accounts and debts. If you have children under the age of 18, you also need special documents naming a Guardian for them.

The documents you need for incapacity are Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Healthcare. These documents allow you to name someone to act on your behalf if you can’t.

(2) Planning for the Kids

When planning for the children, you need to make sure you have a safe Guardian named to care for them if you can’t. While heterosexual couples have both parties named on a child’s birth certificate, same sex couples often don’t. Because of this, same sex couples often need to adopt their partner’s children to become a biological parent, unless they have had children in their relationship and have taken the proper legal steps to ensure equal parenting rights.

If you’re in a same sex relationship where one partner has children from a previous relationship, and you want to have equal rights to the children, make sure you have followed the proper procedure to make sure you are a legal parent or Guardian for those children.

If you’re in a same sex relationship and have had children during your relationship, make sure you have legally established equal parental rights for your children.

(3) Untangle Old Unions

In Oklahoma, we recognize common law marriage. If you or your partner were in a long-term relationship with another partner, make sure that the previous relationship was properly dissolved under Oklahoma law. You do not want another person claiming rights to your joint property and assets in the future.

(4) Review Real Estate Paperwork

Make sure your real estate documents give you and your partner equal rights to your property. This is especially important if you moved in together before the court’s ruling in 2015.

Real estate documents that state someone owns the property as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” allow the joint owner to take title to the property by filing an Affidavit. This means they do not have to go to probate court if something happens to their partner.

However, if the deed is silent, the other party is not on the deed, or it states the property is held as “tenants in common,” the property will not pass to the other owner without a probate. And even then, without a proper estate plan, it may not pass the way you want it to.

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