We always emphasize the fact that estate planning is important for all adults, regardless of your sexual orientation, your relationship status, or your age. At one time, it was absolutely essential for committed LGBT couples, because they could not get legally married in the eyes of the law.
This has changed in all 50 states because of a landmark Supreme Court case that was won by the late Edith Windsor. She challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a relationship that can only exist between a man and a woman, and she emerged victorious.
Now, anyone that wants to get married can do so, and all Americans are treated equally in this regard.
Joint Living Trusts
All married couples should have estate plans, and a joint living trust can be a very effective solution. Property that is conveyed into the trust can include jointly held property, and it is possible to add separate property as well. Both partners would be co-trustees while they are alive and well.
There are various different ways that the trust could be structured, but the typical scenario would involve a surviving spouse becoming the sole trustee after the death of one spouse. The survivor would then personally control all of the property that was jointly owned along with their separate property.
When it comes to the separate property of the deceased spouse, the way it would be distributed would depend upon the trust terms that were established at the outset. They could fall under the control of the surviving spouse, or they could be distributed to other beneficiaries.
It is possible for people that are married to create two separate trusts. The ideal course of action will depend upon the circumstances, and we would be more than glad to help you make the right decision.
Same-sex partners sometimes choose not to get married for one reason or another. They may be in a committed relationship, but they are not ready to take that step. There are also those that see no reason to get “a piece of paper” to prove their commitment to one another.
If you fit this description, you absolutely must have an estate plan in place. Most people would want to leave property to their partner. This would not happen if you do not express your wishes in writing in a legally binding manner. It would be distributed to your closest relative or relatives under the intestate succession laws of the state of Ohio.
There is another important factor that a lot of folks overlook. People sometimes experience medical conditions that lead to incapacity. Health care decision making becomes necessary, and someone has to make them on behalf of the incapacitated patient.
In Ohio, this would be the individual that is considered to be a next of kin or legal guardian. A partner would not have any familial relationship, so they would not be empowered to make the decisions.
You can account for this through the execution of advance health care directives. With a durable power of attorney, you can name your partner as the agent. They would then have the ability to act as your representative for health care decision-making.
Another advance directive is a living will. With this type of will, you state your preferences regarding the utilization of life support measures. When you have a living will, the agent would not have to make these types of decisions.
You would also want to include a HIPAA release to give doctors the ability to speak freely about your condition with your health care agent.
Schedule a Remote Consultation!
Now is the time for action if you are going through life without an estate plan. We are offering remote consultations at this time, and you can call us at 513-721-1513 to schedule an appointment. There is also a contact form on this website you can use to send us a message.