Member of the LGBTQ community, and those who support them, know what a battle it has been (and continues to be) to try and gain the legal right to marry and share in all the numerous benefits legal marriage offers. In recent years, those efforts have finally begun to pay off as a number of states have enacted laws allowing same-sex marriage. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States finally struck down the definition of marriage used in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and in the process opened the door to an estimated 1000 plus benefits that were previous unavailable to same-sex married couples. While the progress is encouraging, there is still much to be done to bring members same-sex couples onto equal footing, legally speaking, with opposite sex married couples. In the meantime, estate planning for same-sex couples continues to take on a heightened importance.
Creating a comprehensive estate plan is important for everyone. When you get married, the need for a thorough estate plan increases. If you are part of a same-sex couple, even if you are legally married, a well drafted estate plan is crucial.
An estate plan can, and should, serve a variety of functions. Your estate plan not only provides the roadmap which will be used when you die to distribute your estate assets, but it can also help protect and grow those assets in the meantime. You undoubtedly want to protect and provide for your partner/spouse in your estate plan as well. If you are legally married your spouse will have the benefit and security of knowing that he/she will inherit from you automatically as part of your state’s intestate succession laws – assuming you live in a state that recognizes your marriage at the time of your death. Your spouse will also be able to make important medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated at some point down the road – again, assuming you happen to be in a state that recognizes your marriage at the time.
The legal state of matrimony has always come with benefits. Although 37 states have legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, either by court decision or constitutional amendment, Missouri is not one of them. With the future of same-sex marriage uncertain, not only in Missouri but in the country as a whole, it remains imperative that you continue to use your estate plan to protect yourself and your partner/spouse.
If you are part of a same-sex couple you owe it to yourself and your love one to make sure your estate plan is up to date and thorough. If you need to update your plan, or create a new one, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.