Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples

In January, Florida became the 36th state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. More recently, the United States Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. (Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) 772 F.3d 388, 576 U.S. ____).

All people who are married, whether of the same or opposite sex, need to consider estate planning. You need to consider what will happen to you, your property, and your children, if and when you die. Although many people do not want to consider these issues because it may make them uncomfortable having to think about death, these types of decisions need to be made before it is too late. Included within the realm of estate planning are the issues of wealth and asset distribution, custody of children (if there are children), advanced health care directives, and power of attorney.

Wills

A will is a written document that expresses your desires for distribution of your property upon your death. Without a will, you run the risk that your property will not be passed on in the way you want it to be. In addition, if you have children, your will should provide to whom you leave the care and custody of your children.

Revocable Trusts

A revocable trust is a written document that is an agreement as to how your assets are to be managed during your lifetime and distributed after death. A revocable trust may be used in conjunction with or instead of a will. A revocable trust ensures that your property is managed according to your wishes both (i) during your lifetime, particularly in the event if you become incapacitated, your bills will be paid, your family members will be taken care of, etc., and (ii) upon your death. And, a revocable trust keeps your estate out of the Florida probate court (a will will be processed through the probate court).

Living Will

A living will is a written document under which you make a declaration to have artificial life prolonging procedures withdrawn under certain conditions (“terminal condition”, “persistent vegetative state” and “end stage condition”).

Health Care Surrogate Designation

A health care surrogate designation is a written document under which you designate and name another person who will make medical and health care decisions for you on your behalf if you become incapacitated and cannot make or verbalize your wishes regarding medical care and treatment.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a written document under which you designate and name another person who will make financial, property, legal and other related decisions on your behalf. Through the durable power of attorney, a person delegates the power to act on that person’s behalf to another person, called the agent. What actions or decisions the agent can make on behalf of the person giving the power of attorney depends on the language contained in the document. If the power of attorney is written broadly, then the agent can have broad power in doing so. Or, the power of attorney can be written such that the agent can only act or make decisions with regard to specific issues or in specific circumstances. Generally, a power of attorney is used to allow the agent to make decisions and act in order to have access to your bank accounts, pay your bills, sign legal documents and contracts on your behalf, in the event you cannot perform these acts or make these decisions in your own right.

Speak with an Estate Law Attorney Now

If you have not yet addressed your estate planning needs, you should speak with an experienced estate law attorney, such as those at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. Our attorneys have over 20 years of experience each handling a variety of estate and probate cases. Because estate planning is highly fact-dependent and creating legal documents that protect your interests takes great legal knowledge, you should contact us today to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

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