What should LGBTQ couples know about estate planning in Pennsylvania?

LGBTQ couple

With the paramount Obergefell v. Hodges decision requiring states to recognize same-sex marriage, LGBTQ couples can enjoy the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples. From receiving your spouse’s employer-sponsored health benefits to filing joint taxes, marriage undoubtedly has its perks. However, one thing that LGBTQ couples should start to consider is their estate plan. If you and your partner are ready to start planning your estate, you’ll want to keep reading to learn more about the process and how Pennsylvania estate planning attorneys can help.

Do LGBTQ couples need to be married to create a plan?

Though many assume a couple must be legally married to create an estate plan, this is not true. Many same-sex couples live together as long-term partners without deciding to marry. This makes it all the more essential to create an estate plan if you are not married.

If you pass away without a will, your estate will enter the intestate process. This means the state will take over the distribution of your assets, following the state’s line of succession. Generally, Pennsylvania law will pass on to a spouse and surviving children. If neither is available to accept the share, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews will receive portions of the estate. This means your long-term unmarried partner will not receive anything, as they are not legally recognized.

What should couples include in their estate plan?

One of the most essential documents that everyone should create is a will. This document details all assets in your estate, including funds, property, and stocks. Similarly, you will name an executor who is responsible for carrying out the distribution of your estate to the named beneficiaries. A will is essential for unmarried couples, as it guarantees you can leave portions of your estate to your partner.

You should also consider creating a healthcare directive. This allows you to grant someone power of attorney, giving them the authority to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated or unable to do so on your own. If you and your partner are unmarried, you may want them to make the final decision for the treatment you receive as opposed to your parents or other family members.

Can an attorney help?

If you’re ready to start planning your estate with your partner or spouse, meeting with an attorney is crucial. Though it may seem simple enough to download a form online and fill it out on your own, one mistake can invalidate your entire will. This means your estate will not be distributed according to your wishes.

At Friedman Schuman, we understand that estate planning can be overwhelming. We have the experience to guide you through the process, making it as easy and simple as possible. Reach out today to connect with one of our seasoned attorneys to discuss the details of your case.

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