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3 estate planning tools for people in same-sex relationships

Estate planning is essential for any person. However, as this NerdWallet article points out, same-sex partners can be challenged more often than opposite-sex partners when it comes to end-of-life care and decisions. Further, the probate process can be particularly thorny when the person who passes away has estranged family members or relatives who did not agree with his or her relationship.

To minimize conflict and provide clear direction on what should happen with your assets, it is crucial that you complete a few estate planning documents if you are unmarried and in a same-sex relationship.

  1. Medical directives: Making clear your wishes, as well as assigning your partner as your health care proxy, ensures that your care and the decisions that must be made regarding your care are managed by the person you designate. Without this, your partner could be left without access to you and your medical records, and the difficult decisions regarding your medical needs could be left in the hands of people you may not trust.
  2. Will: Without a comprehensive will, the courts will distribute your assets. And their decisions may not be what you would want, especially if you have lost or cut ties with family members over the years. Further, your partner can be left without the protection he or she needs when it comes to assigning your assets and debts. Even if you have a will, family members may try to challenge it in probate, so it is wise to make certain a will is specific, enforceable and inclusive.
  3. Powers of attorney: Legally designating someone to make decisions for you ensures that your needs will be handled by someone you trust. Depending on the level of control you give, this person will have the power to buy or sell your property, choose your medical care and even operate your business. Giving your partner power of attorney allows him or her to act on your behalf and in your best interests.

Protecting your partner and shielding him or her from unnecessary legal pain by completing these documents can be invaluable. To discuss these or any other estate planning tools that may be effective, you can consult an attorney.

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