Estate planning is an essential part of life, regardless of sexual orientation. However, for same-sex couples, estate planning can be especially important because the laws and regulations surrounding estate planning can be complex and may vary depending on the state in which you reside. In Georgia, same-sex couples face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning, but there are solutions to help ensure your assets and loved ones are protected. Here are some key factors to consider when planning your estate as a same-sex couple in Georgia:
Marriage and Domestic Partnership Status
Same-sex marriage became legal in Georgia in 2015, which means that same-sex couples can legally marry and enjoy the same legal protections and benefits as opposite-sex couples. If you and your partner are married, you have the same rights and responsibilities as any other married couple when it comes to estate planning.
If you are in a domestic partnership or civil union, however, the legal rights and protections may vary depending on the state. In Georgia, domestic partnerships are not recognized, so it’s important to take extra steps to ensure your partner is protected in case of incapacity or death.
When it comes to estate planning, one of the simplest ways to ensure that your assets go to your partner is to name them as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, retirement account, or other financial assets. By doing so, the assets will transfer directly to your partner without going through probate, which can be a lengthy and expensive process.
Wills and Trusts
A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets after you pass away. In Georgia, if you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws, which may not reflect your wishes. A trust is another estate planning tool that can help protect your assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes. By creating a trust, you can transfer ownership of your assets to the trust, which can then be managed by a trustee on behalf of your beneficiaries.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. It’s important for same-sex couples to have a power of attorney in place to ensure that their partner can make decisions regarding their medical care and finances if they are unable to do so.
A healthcare directive, also known as a living will, is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment in case you become unable to communicate your wishes. This is particularly important for same-sex couples because they may not have the same legal rights as married couples in some states. By having a healthcare directive in place, you can ensure that your wishes are followed, regardless of your legal status.
If you and your partner have children, it’s important to designate a guardian for them in case both of you pass away. This is especially important for same-sex couples who may not have the same legal protections as married couples. By designating a guardian in your will or trust, you can ensure that your children are taken care of by someone you trust.
Estate planning can be a complex process, especially for same-sex couples who may face unique challenges depending on the state in which they reside. However, by taking the necessary steps to protect your assets and loved ones, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out, regardless of your legal status. Contact our experienced estate planning attorneys at Brian Douglas & Associates today to create a plan that works for you and your partner.