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Estate Planning Tips for Families, Following Obergefell

Aug 31 2016

Written by Jason C. Henbest, Esq. and Brittany Saxton

The 2015 landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, where Justice Kennedy crafted the majority opinion, granted same-sex couples the legal right to marry in the United States. As a result, same-sex couples can now take advantage of joint filing when completing their taxes. Similarly, same sex couples must also look into the implications this ruling has on estate planning.

By allowing same-sex couples to now bequeath their estates to their “husbands” or “wives” rather than their “partner,” this aspect of the law becomes less murky. The result of Obergefell provides a much more straightforward approach in drafting estate planning documents. For same-sex couples who have never considered creating an estate plan, the ruling of Obergefell fosters more reason to think about the necessity of these documents. Consider how a Will protects assets after death, a Power of Attorney and Living Will delineate proxies for both financial and health care, and having wishes firmly cemented in black and white helps prepare for the ambiguous future.

The biggest mistake any married couple can make in preparing for the future is not creating estate planning documents at all. In the event of your demise, a Will prevents probate issues, gives the couple control over their own assets, and provides guardianship to present or future children. Supplemental, but easily just as important to the Will, are the Power of Attorney and Living Will. A Power of Attorney entitles a spouse to make decisions on behalf of the other when they no longer have the capacity to do so. A Living Will states the desired health care in the event of incapacity, and entitles a Health Care Representative to ensure your wishes are met. Overall, the important of these documents for married couples cannot be overstated. Contact your local estate planning attorney to get started on these documents, today.

Lacey Township, Forked River, and Lanoka Harbor Lawyer | Estate Planning