Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Same-Sex Couples Must Plan Carefully

Uncle Sam has given the best of the wedding. A vase of Simon Pearce is divine, but pales in comparison with married filing tax rates jointly and unlimited tax deduction marital property.

Unfortunately, despite representing the same level of love and commitment, same-sex couples do not receive these gifts from Uncle Sam.

Financial planning for same-sex couples is fraught with difficulties. Few states provide rights to same-sex couples, and among those who do, the rights are not uniform. (See below). The federal government refuses all marriage rights to same-sex couples, although that may change soon. Because of the many gray areas, like all couples need financial planning, especially with children. Plans should the intentions of the couple is very clear in case they are challenged. Should also be reviewed frequently to keep up with legislation.

Given the complicated variation among states, in motion or travel can be very treacherous. If you live in the state who were married or if you travel a lot out of state, some key movements of planning can ensure that your relationship and your intentions are respected.

In general, hospitals allow visitation rights to spouses and other relatives. If the state does not recognize their relationship, their partner is not considered a member of the family. He or she will therefore be denied visitation rights and ability to make medical decisions on your behalf.

To avoid this, run a power, allowing your partner to act as its agent in the health and financial matters. Although it may be inconvenient, you should bring a copy when traveling. Do not assume that the agreement will be respected in other states, especially if it is very different from the energy of this state of a lawyer, however, this documentation should help the healthy partner to present their case to the hospital staff.

The states that allow same-sex marriage or provide the equivalent often have rights to surviving partners of intestacy. These allow one, if not all, of the deceased partner's property to pass to the surviving spouse, even if the deceased has not executed a will. However, a state that does not recognize the relationship does not have these rights. If you die without a will in one of these states, your partner will not be provided to your estate. Your property rather spend his biological family based on the laws of the state.

The first defense against this is to have a will that gives her partner and their children. Make sure your family are aware of how you would like your property to be distributed after his death to avoid surprises and potential competition. You may want to include positive statements about why you decided to leave the property to his partner rather than their biological family.

You may also have assets outside your will, whenever possible. Retirement accounts, life insurance and trusts to pass to beneficiaries outside the probate courts. Titling property in joint ownership with right of survivorship allows the survivor to inherit jointly owned property.

Your will should also make clear its intentions with regard to burial arrangements and your partner should be given possession of his remains after his death. Usually, the deceased is given to relatives. If a same sex partner is not recognized, the survivor is not considered a member of the family. He or she will not be granted authority over the body and disposition. Historically, courts have respected the intent of the deceased and therefore it is important to have the support of his last wishes.

States that allow gay unions usually do not allow biological parents to sign a child's birth certificate as the father. However, this does not necessarily provide all the rights of parents, especially in states where the relationship is not recognized. Adoption by non-biological parent is a potential solution. This is particularly important in the case of a medical emergency and intestate succession. Without the adoption, the non-biological parent may be denied the right to make medical decisions for your child or to visit the child in the hospital. If the biological parent dies intestate, the non-biological parent can not be granted custody of the state. Also, if the non-biological parent dies intestate, the child may be eligible to inherit from him or her.

When you execute estate planning documents, same-sex couples have less margin for error as heterosexual couples. You do not want the legitimacy of documents to be questioned. If they overturn the laws of the state is not likely to create the desired result. Therefore, choosing a financial planner and team attorney who is familiar with the laws on same-sex couples. In addition, documents and plans must be reviewed frequently to keep abreast of the legal environment is very dynamic.



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