If you are a part of a same-sex relationship, there are a number of ways your estate plan may be a bit more complex than those of heterosexual couples. Unfortunately, there are a number of laws that still lag behind the changing tide of public opinion, and setting aside the unfairness of the situation, if you want to ensure that your estate plan serves your interests and provides for your partner, there are several key considerations to attend to. One of the most prevalent issues is marriages to previous partners that you might assume were invalid outside of the state where you registered.
When same-sex marriage became the law of the land, there were already number of states that recognized same-sex marriage and had been issuing marriage licenses for a number of years. If you were previously married under a marriage license before the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, your previous marriage license was not automatically dissolved. You should make sure that any previous marriages are officially dissolved before you set up an estate plan that seeks to transfer assets to your current partner or spouse.
Otherwise, your estate plan may face challenges from your prior spouse after you pass away. A same-sex marriage license issued prior to the nationwide legalization of same- sex marriage may still hold precedence in the eyes of the law. Furthermore, in some cases, if you were in a registered domestic partnership, the state where you registered it may have converted it to a marriage automatically. It is entirely possible that you don’t realize you’re legally married to a former partner.
If you have any concerns about your marital status, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you examine all of the relevant laws and documents and ensure that your estate plan is as airtight as you wish it to be, keeping your rights and privileges secure.
Source: USA Today, “Estate planning is more complicated for same-sex couples,” Tina Orem, June 17, 2017