Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex married couples living in marriage equality states will now be treated exactly like all other married couples and enjoy the same estate planning benefits as heterosexual marriages. For instance, the unlimited marital deduction allows one spouse to transfer all assets to the other spouse without being hit by the federal estate or gift taxes. In addition, last week, Arizona finally passed the bill allowing marriage rights to same sex couples
In short, now that same sex couples in Arizona have the same rights as other married couples, they can now also begin estate planning to protect their loved ones and that relationship into the future.
Steps to take:
• Review all of your accounts to confirm who your designated beneficiaries are.
• Create a will. Both partners should create wills and specifically state who will inherit each of their estates and who will be the personal representatives.
• Strongly consider creating a trust to protect both your loved one and any children of the union, whether natural or adopted.
• Be very clear on naming a guardian for your children.
• Understand that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does allow you to authorize medical providers to discuss your condition and prognosis with your partner.
• Be sure to assign health, durable and financial powers of attorney to someone you trust, whether it is your partner or someone else.
• Create a living will that lets your partner know your preferences about medical treatment and the issue of heroic life saving measures and prolonging life.
• Make specific provisions in your will be your funeral and what happens to your body. Sometimes, the family of a deceased same sex partner fails to recognize the union and will try to take control of the body and bar the partner from attending the funeral. Make provisions so that this won't happen.
• If you have sizable estates consider advance tax estate planning.
Note. The Court's holding did not address the impact of its decision on civil unions, domestic partnerships or similar state law concepts.
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