Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples

The legal landscape regarding same sex relationships is constantly changing. New York State recognizes a valid same-sex marriage from any jurisdiction. Due to the United States v. Windsor (2013) ruling from the Supreme Court, the Federal Government has created patchwork acceptance of same-sex marriages. Depending on which agency our clients are dealing with, their marriage may or may not be recognized. Finally, while the landscape continues to evolve on a state-by-state basis, there are still some states which will not recognize a valid out-of-state marriage, further complicating planning for our clients who spend time out of New York State. It is important to work with estate planning attorneys who understand this varied legal landscape.

  • Estate Planning for LGBT Clients: There are tax and planning pitfalls that can be avoided, but experience in this area is vitally important. Litigation is a common problem when an individual leaves their estate to someone of the same sex, no matter how long or loving the relationship was. The use of trusts and careful estate planning can ensure that the estate passes as intended and loved ones are provided for. Partnering with a lawyer who is familiar with the unique issues facing LGBT clients is critical.
  • Power of Attorney: Advance planning for financial decision making is an essential part of any estate plan, and planning for same-sex couples requires additional legal knowledge. Our LGBT clients may face unique issues when dealing with financial institutions and we are experienced in helping our clients through this complex process.
  • Living Will and Health Care Proxy: A Living Will and Health Care Proxy helps our clients deal with health care providers who are not familiar with the legal rights of LGBT couples who wish to make decisions regarding health care for each other. We use customized documents which ensure that our client’s rights are protected and their wishes are honored.

Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples Practice Leader