Married couples’ genders do not necessarily affect or change the probate process in the District of Columbia. Surviving spouses, regardless of gender, have the right to elect against the last will and testament, have priority to serve as personal representative, and have the right to receive statutory allowances.
Although the District of Columbia has recognized same-sex marriage since 2009, the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), legalized same-sex marriage throughout all states. For same-sex couples who owned real estate in states that did not previously recognize same-sex marriage, it may be an opportunity to review their current titling of assets or estate plan in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Important Steps to Take in DC Probate Process
Same-sex spouses may wish to speak to a DC probate attorney to prepare a comprehensive and coordinated estate plan so that issues regarding incapacity planning, distribution of assets, titling of assets, beneficiary designations can be sorted out and coordinated. In addition, considerations such as estate tax planning, trusts for minor children, or including adopted children, or children that are biologically only related to one parent can be addressed during estate planning.
A lawyer who has practiced in this field for years will be clear and knowledgeable about the process. They will provide clear and concise information to help you throughout the process.
How Children of Same-Sex Spouses Are Impacted
Children of same-sex couples are not treated any differently from children of couples of different sexes. However, all couples may wish to plan for children that are not adopted by both spouses, not biologically related to either or both parents. In cases where there may be technical and legal complications, it is important to move through the process with a probate lawyer in DC who understands these complexities and can help you maneuver them successfully. Every family is unique, and a comprehensive estate plan can be tailored to fit each family’s dynamic.
Treatment Under DC Laws of Intestacy
The inheritance rights of children according to DC law are dependent on the lineal blood line or adopted relationship with the decedent. For example, if only one spouse in a marriage adopts a child, and the non-adopting spouse passes away without a last will and testament, the child may not be considered an heir of the non-adopting spouse.
Although this area of law has changed dramatically, it is still in the process of being finely tuned. There are some issues and questions that remain in a gray area. Comprehensive and up-to-date estate planning can help all individuals plan for incapacity, estate taxes, and passing on their assets to their loved.
Our Approach to DC Probate Cases for Same-Sex Spouses
The experienced probate lawyers at our DC office assist a variety of clients with a plethora of different family dynamics. With each client, they work to create coordinated estate plans tailored to each unique family dynamic. They enjoy assisting clients, learning about clients’ families, and helping each family plan for their future.