by: Tehila Mörtl
As we continue in our elder law series, given the Supreme Court determined that much of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional in June 2013; then, finally ruling in 2015 that states must allow same sex marriages, we feel it prudent to address how same sex couples can benefit from the services of estate attorneys. Many have planned their estates on laws established prior to the final Supreme Court ruling; thus, it is vital to review what issues in relations to federal laws might be impacted in the settling of one one’s estate and resulting taxes. Unfortunately, despite the fact that same sex marriage is now recognized across the country, couples remain unprotected under federal law. To avoid complications or future legal concerns, Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants would like to assist same sex couples in securing a qualified estate attorney to plan for legal and non-legal issues including end of life arrangements.
The transfer of assets is but one of the issues that same sex couples must be concerned with in regards to federal law. Due to disparities between state and federal law there are specific guidelines estate attorneys must be experienced in to avoid any future concerns. It is vital that all pertinent issues (i.e. transfer of property and financial accounts, healthcare, ability to inherit their partners estate) be addressed and arranged for in such a manner as to protect the surviving spouses rights.
When working with your Estate Attorney, please ensure the following tasks are completed:
- Purchase life insurance policy to protect spouse and/or other dependents who rely on your financial support
- Create both a health care and financial Power of Attorney(s)
- Generate a Will
- Establish necessary Trusts
- Designate beneficiaries for all bank, credit union and brokerage accounts, retirement plans, etc.
- Structure estate to minimize tax obligations
- Purchase a burial policy or set up an account that contains enough funds to cover funeral, burial or cremation, etc. to cover after life expenses immediately upon demise
- Establish documentation for final arrangements to ensure your wishes are met (i.e. organ and/or tissue donation, disposition of remains be it through burial or cremation)
- Designate loved ones to carry out last wishes and ensure they have access to all documents pursuant to your death
As with so many of the services we offer, upon establishing each individual’s situation, Advise & Protect will provide referrals to professional and compassionate Estate Attorneys experienced in same sex marriage estate planning at no charge. Please call 646-820-9202 today to discuss your personal needs with one of our Senior Care Consultants so that we may provide a referral to an elder law attorney who best meets your needs.