Estate Planning for LGBTQ+ Couples in Massachusetts
Estate Planning Considerations for LGBTQ+ Couples
Welcome to slnlaw, where we are committed to providing inclusive and comprehensive estate planning services for all couples, including LGBTQ+ individuals and families. In Massachusetts, marriage equality has been in place for several years, but estate planning remains a crucial step for LGBTQ+ couples to protect their rights and assets.
Legal Recognition in Other Jurisdictions
Same-sex marriages are not consistently recognized outside of the United States. Even inside the United States, the political landscape can change, and there is no guarantee that the United States Supreme Court will not weaken or abandon the decision that required all states to recognize marriage equality.
LGBTQ+ couples who live or own property in locations without legal recognition may face complications in estate planning, especially if they have assets in multiple jurisdictions.
Marriage Equality and Beyond
While same-sex marriage is now recognized in the United States, estate planning goes beyond legal recognition. Even if a couple is legally married, estate planning can still be complex for several reasons, including potential family disputes and unique issues that LGBTQ+ couples may face.
LGBTQ+ couples may face unique family dynamics. While they may be legally married, not all families of origin may fully accept or support the relationship. This can increase the likelihood of disputes over the distribution of assets and selection of a Personal Representative.
To be clear: if you are married in Massachusetts and one spouse passes without a will, the law will still distribute assets to the surviving spouse according to the standard intestacy laws. Disputes can still arise, however, concerning who the Probate Court will apoint as a Personal Representative (also known as executor) if it is not specified in a will.
Protecting Non-Biological or Non-Adoptive Children
LGBTQ+ couples may have children who are biologically related to only one partner or adopted by one partner. Estate planning is essential to ensure the legal rights of non-biological or non-adoptive parents and to provide for the children's well-being in case of incapacity or death.
Ensuring Healthcare Decision-Making
LGBTQ+ couples may face challenges in ensuring that their partner has the legal authority to make medical decisions on their behalf. Without proper healthcare proxies and advance directives, healthcare providers may prioritize biological family members over a same-sex spouse.
While progress has been made in LGBTQ+ rights, there may still be instances of discrimination. Estate planning can help protect against potential discrimination in matters such as healthcare, funeral arrangements, and more, by clearly specifying and documenting your wishes so that they cannot be questioned.
Some LGBTQ+ individuals may have concerns about privacy, particularly if not all family members are supportive of their relationship. A comprehensive estate plan using trusts as well as a will can keep information about how you choose to distribute and manage your assets out of the public domain.
In summary, estate planning for LGBTQ+ couples is complex because it involves addressing unique family dynamics, varying legal recognition, and potential discrimination concerns. It's essential to work with experienced estate planning attorneys who understand these complexities and can tailor estate plans to protect the rights and wishes of LGBTQ+ individuals and couples effectively.
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How Our Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help
At slnlaw, we routinely provide estate planning for LGBTQ+ couples, offering tailored solutions to protect your rights and assets. Our team is here to guide you through the complexities of estate planning, ensuring your unique needs and preferences are fully addressed. You can start by using the button below to schedule a free information call, or simply give us a call at 781-784-2322.