If you are part of a same sex partnership, you are likely all too aware of the disparity between the legal status afforded a partner in an opposite sex partnership versus that of a partner in a same sex partnership. If an opposite sex partner dies and the couple was legally married then the surviving spouse is entitled to a wide variety of state and federal benefits. Unfortunately, the same is not true for same sex partnerships. Although state and federal laws may not provide financial protection in the event of your death, you can do so yourself with careful estate planning.
The most important thing you can do is to start by executing a Last Will and Testament. Absent a Will, the state will decide what happens to your assets. State intestate succession laws vary, but don’t count on intestate succession laws including your same sex partner in the list of your heirs. In your Will, you can give anything you want to your partner whether that includes personal items with sentimental meaning or all the money you have in the bank.
Speaking of bank accounts, make sure that any financial accounts you share are titled appropriately. Don’t assume that simply adding your partners name to an account means that he or she will have access to the funds upon your death. Likewise, you can designate your partner as the beneficiary on life insurance or retirement accounts if you so choose.
Make sure that you talk to your estate planning attorney now to ensure that your partner is financially protected in the event of your death.