Archive for the ‘California Same-Sex Attorney’ Category
Monday, April 29th, 2013
All across the nation, states and communities are struggling with their views on same-sex marriage. While many aspects of the issue are being debated, voted on, appealed, and so much more, that doesn’t change the fact that same-sex couples in Orange County need to have legal protection to ensure their estate planning wishes are met and protected.
In order to ensure you are following the letter of the law, your best bet is to find a lawyer with experience in estate planning for same-sex couples in Orange County. This person will have a good understanding of what issues need to be addressed as well as how current laws are being interpreted by the legal system.
Keep in mind that both estate planning laws and domestic partnership, marriage, and related laws are continually in flux. What was true when Bob and Gary did their estate planning may have changed drastically now that Anita and Jane are getting their documents in order.
Not only are there ongoing changes to California estate planning laws and their meanings for same-sex couples, but they vary from state to state, which can affect those who have residences outside of California or even those who travel.
Some of the issues you’ll want to discuss with your estate planning attorney include:
- Can we use “right of survivorship?”
- Should I name my partner as the beneficiary of my will?
- Is some kind of a trust a better option for our situation?
- What kind of taxes will my partner be expected to pay?
- How can I ensure my IRA or 401(k) will go to my partner?
- Will my partner have rights in the event of my death or incapacity?
Of course, if you and your partner have children, there can be even more estate planning issues to contend with. You will definitely want an attorney involved to help protect the surviving partner’s rights to your children. There are a few different tools that can be helpful in this situation, and it’s not recommended to simply rely on naming the partner as the child’s legal guardian.
It’s the unfortunate truth that same-sex couples currently have a larger estate-planning burden than their married heterosexual counterparts. From setting up a domestic partnership to adopting children to naming beneficiaries, there are many legal aspects of same-sex partnerships that need to be addressed in order to provide even similar protections as those granted by a legal marriage in California.
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
It’s not unusual for legislation to affect the realm of estate planning. From tax implications to guardianship of children, an estate planning attorney has to keep up with the ever-changing legal landscape. This is certainly true when it comes to estate planning for same-sex couples in Orange County.
Currently, same-sex marriage is not legal in California, which means that legal aspects of a same-sex relationship often fall under the category of contract law. It can be complicated, and in order to protect your property and your relationship, it is highly recommended to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
There are several issues that need to be clearly addressed. Keep in mind, too, that this is just an introduction, and there are many other considerations to make with your lawyer.
Powers of Attorney
If one partner was to fall ill, would the other be allowed to make medical decisions for him or her? If a medical power of attorney has not been created, then the answer is likely “no.” The decision-making role would go to a blood relative. The same is true of finances. In order for one partner to have control of the other’s finances during an illness or after death, a financial power of attorney needs to be in place.
Planning for Assets
While legally married couples have the protection of assets typically being passed directly to a spouse, same-sex couples do not typically enjoy these same considerations. That’s why it is important to make sure that you name your partner as your beneficiary when and where you can. Some possibilities include:
- Bank Accounts
- Life Insurance Policies
- Mutual Funds/Stock Portfolios
- Retirement Plans
Your estate planning attorney in Orange County will have a comprehensive list of assets that should be considered in naming beneficiaries.
Estate and gift taxes are another area in which same-sex couples don’t have the same protections as those who are legally married. For example, legally-married spouses can gift their money and assets to their spouses without facing huge tax repercussions later. Inheritance taxes have received considerable attention as of late, but the fact is that those who don’t have the protection of legal marriage are still going to pay more than others.
Your estate planning attorney in Orange County can help create ways to limit the amount of taxes that would be expected after the death of one partner. This can be achieved through well-thought-out gifts, living trusts, and other means.
The fact of the matter is that same-sex couples need to put time and effort into the estate planning process in order to ensure that their partners receive what they are entitled to receive. While estate planning really should be done by all kinds of couples, there are some safeguards in place to protect those who are legally married, and these options are just not yet available to same-sex couples in California. In the meantime, it just makes good sense to set up a meeting with a reputable attorney and add some peace of mind to your relationship.
Friday, December 16th, 2011
Alex and Tina had a great life together and a love for each other that was obvious even to strangers. They had been together for over 30 years, raising children and sharing a home. Alex had not been feeling well for a few days and a doctor’s appointment had been made, but Alex passed away before that appointment was due.
The house had been in Alex’s name and because her full name was Alexandra, the couple had never married. Alex intended to create a will and leave the house to Tina, but it felt to them that they had time and, what could happen anyway? Alex’s family knew her wishes.
Instead, Tina was left with no home and no way to purchase one. She expected to stay in the home she shared (and helped pay for) with Alex, but feelings over Alex’s sudden death had flared and there were not-so-subtle comments made that Tina should have seen to it that Alex got to the doctor sooner.
The face of American families has changed over the past few decades, but laws were written with the traditional family (man, woman, 2.5 kids) in mind. Rules allowing for a spouse’s elective share of the estate don’t apply in non-traditional relationships.
In that case, it is important for couples to have a will or trust and use contractual agreements that outline the rights and responsibilities of each partner.
This can be easily done and there is no time like the present. As a California estate planning attorney who serves non-traditional and same-sex partners, I welcome your questions and hope that I can assist you when you create or revise your estate planning documents.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
While some states have enacted marriage equality laws, others are not offering the same rights and privileges to same-sex couples. In either situation, however, most estate planning lawyers can tell you that there are still important steps to take in protecting your rights to make medical decisions for your partner. In Newport Beach, as in other places, it all starts with a power of attorney.
A medical power of attorney is used to specifically name the person who can make your medical decisions when you are unable. Sometimes this document may be referred to as a health care proxy. By naming your same-sex partner, you are providing him or her with the legal clout needed to step up and make those choices. In cases where a durable power of attorney for healthcare has not been created, it’s not unheard of for the same-sex partner to be barred from the room while the patient’s parents or siblings are given the responsibility of making medical decisions.
There is other documentation that can help in the process, as well. A marriage certificate or proof of a domestic partnership may be required by some hospitals. Your Newport Beach attorney can help ensure that you have all of the appropriate paperwork in place, including a financial power of attorney. While this document doesn’t necessarily extend to making medical decisions, it does allow your partner to pay bills, work with insurance companies, and take care of other financial obligations that may arise while you are ill and incapacitated.
Finally, work with your Orange County estate planning attorney to put together a living will or advance directive for both you and your same-sex partner. While you certainly want to be able to make medical decisions for one another, it’s most important to be sure that you’re actually following one another’s wishes. An advance directive can help to describe your wishes in cases where you are not able to share them yourself. For example, what are your feelings regarding life-support or do you have a preference on end-of-life care.
By laying your plans out clearly, you protect your partner from having to make very difficult decisions and also assure that other family members cannot override your wishes. Your Newport Beach estate planning lawyer will go over your options in-depth so you have a comprehensive document that looks after the rights of both you and your partner.
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