Video: Estate Planning Essentials for LGBT Families
The Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts, but LGBT marriages have yet to receive federal recognition and the rights and protections that come with it. One area in which this impacts same-sex couples is estate planning and inheritance.
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Lawyers.com Supervising Producer John McCarthy interviews attorney Joan Burda, an estate planning expert who focuses on LGBT issues. Burda explains that married same-sex couples don’t have the same right of inheritance as straight couples; if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse doesn’t automatically inherit all assets. This makes an estate plan essential for LGBT couples in order to ensure both partners’ rights will be protected.
Burda describes various arrangements and documents that can help LGBT couples ensure their wishes are followed. A will is essential, and can also be used in conjunction with a living trust to provide additional protection.
Burda stresses the importance for same-sex couples with children to put an estate plan in place to protect the rights of the non-legally-recognized parent. The legal parent can include specific instructions in his or her will regarding the care and raising of the couple’s children. If these provisions aren’t made, the surviving spouse could lose custody and the children could be placed in foster care.
Burda advises committed same-sex couples to consult an attorney experienced in LGBT issues and put a plan in place as soon as possible, particularly if they plan to marry. Visit Lawyers.com to learn more about estate planning and to locate an attorney who can answer your questions and help you make all the necessary arrangements.