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Helping LGBT & Same Sex Couples Plan for the Future
"You don't just want a lawyer who is 'gay friendly'. You want one who is 'gay knowledgeable' too." — Attorney Steven J. Mandel
Although DOMA was recently struck down, when it comes to financial and estate planning, same-sex couples may not be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples since all states do not currently recognize same-sex marriage. To ensure your ability to have your wishes carried out, it is still important to create estate planning documents that clearly spell out how you and your partner intend to handle future health care issues and financial matters.
At The Mandel Law Firm in New York City, we place a strong emphasis on the importance of gay and lesbian estate planning and recognize how it may be different. Certainly, planning for the future is not unique to same-sex relationships, but until all state laws including inheritance laws, catch up to New York and the federal government, having the appropriate documentation in place is much more vital for these couples.
Our lawyers know the law, but they also know how to uniquely make the law work for gay and lesbian couples in much the same way it does for married heterosexual couples. They will work with you to establish clear-cut estate planning documents that reflect your intentions and wises. Contact us today to arrange a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Drafting a Will to Protect Your Partner's Inheritance
First and foremost, both partners of a same-sex couple need to create wills specifically designating their partner as a beneficiary. If one partner were to die without a will in states where same sex marriage is not recognized, the courts would decide who should inherit the deceased's assets, which would always be a "blood relative," even one remotely related, instead of a life partner.
Inheritance Rights of Same-Sex Couple's Adopted Children
The attorneys at The Mandel Law Firm can also aid you in creating documents to protect the inheritance rights of your children. If a child has been legally adopted, he or she will have the same rights of inheritance as other biological or adopted children in your relationship. If you choose not to adopt your partner's biological child but wish for the child to receive an inheritance at the time of your death, you must specifically include the child in your will.
Additional Planning Documents
In addition to a Last Will and Testament, each partner should prepare several other vital life-planning documents.
Healthcare Proxy: If you are seriously injured and hospitalized as a result, your partner may not be able to visit you because he or she is not legally considered to be a member of your family in certain states. Having a health care proxy in place will allow for visitation. A health care proxy is also important as it designates your life partner as the person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Failing to have this document in place would allow a remotely related relative, doctor, or health care administrator, to make these all important medical decisions for you, rather than your loved and trusted partner.
Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney is similar to a health care proxy, except it deals with your financial issues instead of your health care choices. By establishing a durable power of attorney, you can designate your life partner as the person you wish to oversee your financial matters if you cannot do so for yourself.
Living Will: : A living will expresses your wishes pertaining to being kept on life support in the event of a terminal condition from which your doctors say, with a fair degree of medical certainty, you will not recover.
Disposition of Remains/Autopsy and Authorization for Funeral Arrangements
No one likes to contemplate their own death, but gay and lesbian couples, married or not, may be at greater risks for unwanted family interference than heterosexual, married couples. If you should pass away without specifically and clearly stating your intentions in a written document, any member of your family may step in and make those all important final decisions, without ever having to consult your spouse or partner or being informed of your intentions.
Protect yourself and your partner or spouse from additional heartache at an already grief stricken time by preparing the necessary documentation that will honor both of you by carrying out your final wishes.
A Disposition of Remains or Authorization for Funeral Arrangements will allow your loved one to make all decisions necessary, from your obituary notice to the selection of your casket or urn, to the gravestone, including inscription.
Contact a LGBT Estate Planning Attorney Today in New York City
Contact us online or by telephone toll free at (888) 2 WIN NOW (888-294-6669) or locally at (646) 770-3868 to speak with a New York City lawyer experienced in LGBT estate planning issues.