Washington DC LGBTQ Estate Planning Lawyer
Same-sex couples in Washington DC have been able to get married for nearly a decade. In almost every way, the law now treats homosexual spouses in the same manner as heterosexual spouses when it comes to inheriting from each other.
This does not mean that same-sex couples do not face unique obstacles when it comes to planning their estates. Issues with adoptions, unmarried partners, or domestic partnerships can complicate the estate planning process. If you need to make a plan for your assets after you pass away, contact a Washington DC estate planning lawyer today. A well-versed estate planning lawyer can help you create a plan that works for your family.
Creating a Will in Washington DC
The primary component of any estate plan is a person’s last will and testament. A will determines which of a person’s surviving relatives or friends will inherit their estate. Without a will, the rules of intestate succession determine which of a person’s relatives inherit their property.
Creating a valid will requires a person to be at least 18 years old and have testamentary capacity. The person must be competent enough to understand what they own, who their natural heirs are, who they want to receive their property, and how they want their property distributed after they die.
In Washington DC, a will must be admitted to probate in order to transfer a person’s property. While a will might not be the only way a person chooses to manage their estate, creating a will can ensure that any residual property that was inadvertently left out of other testamentary devices still transfers according to the deceased’s wishes.
Establishing Trusts to Manage Assets
Trusts, unlike wills, are not administered in a probate court. Assets that a grantor titles into a trust transfer outside of the probate process directly to the successor trustee to hold for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Trusts can be either testamentary or freestanding. Testamentary trusts are created by an action of a person’s will and do not contain any assets until the grantor passes away. A freestanding trust takes effect outside of a will and while the grantor is still alive.
Revocable living trusts are commonly utilized types of trusts in estate planning. These trusts allow the grantor to manage their own assets during their lifetime and pass those assets to a successor trustee after death. Unlike assets distributed with a will, a trust functions outside of probate and does not have to be approved by a judge.
Living Wills and Powers of Attorney
A major part of estate planning for unmarried same-sex couples is to create a living will and powers of attorney. These documents clarify rights and responsibilities once an individual is no longer capable of giving consent to medical procedures or managing their own affairs.
A living will is a document that a grantor creates to provide instructions for their end-of-life care. These documents, also known as advance health care directives, allow the grantor to provide their own direction on issues like maintaining life support or taking extraordinary measures to save a person’s life.
In contrast, a durable power of attorney often gives another person like a spouse or partner the right to make medical or health care decisions on the grantor’s behalf. Powers of attorney can also be general in nature and allow that person to manage another’s financial resources. A power of attorney ends ones the grantor dies.
Work with a Washington DC LGBTQ Estate Planning Attorney Today
LGBTQ couples who are married have all of the inheritance rights of heterosexual couples. However, because many same-sex couples were together for years without the right to marry, estate planning may be more complicated.
Working with an attorney who understands your family situation can give you the peace of mind you want when creating an estate plan. Find out more about your legal options by contacting a Washington DC LGBTQ estate planning lawyer today.