Probate for Same-Sex Couples in Bethesda
Same-sex spouses are treated exactly the same as opposite-sex spouses in terms of probate. They have the same rights, such as the right to elect against a last will and testament, the inheritance rights in an estate, and the priority to serve as any other spouse.
To determine how probate may apply in your particular situation, it is critical that you consult with an experienced probate lawyer as soon as possible. A Bethesda probate attorney can help you assess the strength of your case in relation to local laws.
It is important to understand what a person’s rights are, for couples of all types, and it is important to have done prior estate planning so that an individual can be sure their wishes are expressed. All spouses have certain statutory rights under Maryland law. They have a priority to serve in most cases as personal representatives of an estate where there is an absence of a last will and testament. A spouse may also be entitled to an intestate inheritance in the event that the decedent died without a last will and testament.
Generally, it may be helpful for married same-sex couples in Bethesda to do their estate planning in advance so that the planning is done in a time to ensure that all wishes for the disposition of assets can be met. Often, this process itself will help explain the law and the applicable taxes to the couple and it will also help them understand or give them a framework for making some of the decisions they have to make throughout the estate planning process.
Impact on Children
Children of same-sex couples are treated the same as children of opposite-sex couples in terms of probate in Bethesda. However, there are sometimes unique issues regarding either a reproductive technology or adoption that can be more prevalent in same-sex relationships. The risk is that if a child is only biologically related to one parent or has been only adopted by one parent, while they may be raised by both parents, that child might not have any legal right to inherit from non-biological or the non-adopting parent.
Regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex couples in Bethesda, families have been created with the assistance of reproductive technology or through adoption which is very common, and it may be important to give special consideration to how or what the legal rights of those children may be when it comes to intestacy.
Often, a good way to plan in advance in order to ensure that an inheritance is received by children and to ensure that guardians are named in documents is to do it long before the documents are ever needed. It is not uncommon for parents to create a last will and testament that includes a trust from minor children or trust for their children or even disposition provision to their children.
That same document would also include what the parental preference is for guardianship in the event that both parents have passed away. Those are some unique issues that sometimes are now more relevant, given how we choose to build families in the options available to us.
Role of an Attorney
Generally speaking, a lawyer can assist families of all dynamics, both opposite and same-sex in Bethesda, throughout the probate process. A lawyer can get to know a family during the estate planning phase so that they can address any issues that may be present in regard to the family dynamics or asset allocation or preparing to reduce exposure to estate tax long before the probate process has ever begun.