PetWill Radio

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gay Marriage - Rethinking Estate Planning Stereotypes

Today, Vermont became the 5th state in the Nation to recognize gay marriage. Vermont joins four other states, Massachussets, Iowa, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Federal law, however, only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman. As a result, estate planning strategies involving federal gift and estate tax must be carefully considered.

In most states, where gay marriage is not recognized, couples have no protection under state laws like their married counterparts. In fact, one estimate says there are more than a 1,000 rights that are gained when a couple legally marries. This was one of the reasons I finally married my husband, Joe, after 14 years of co-habitation. It no longer made sense to lose the protections for married couples provided by law.

An estate plan is essential for all couples, married or unmarried, same sex or opposite sex. You can't rely on promises, understandings or even the law to provide the protection you may want and need. And planning like your a single person just doesn't fit the bill. There are too many possible pitfalls. You can read more about the pros and cons of planning for unmarried couples in my book Loving Without a License - An Estate Planning Survival Guide for Unmarried Couples and Same Sex Partners co-written with my friend and colleague Candace Pollock, an attorney in Cleveland, Ohio.

One strategy we recommend in Loving Without a License includes a Life Alliance Agreement (tm) to outline the rights and responsiblities of partners during the course of their relationship. Most states don't have a legal system to address the concerns of partners when a relationship ends and the Life Alliance Agreement can create a legally binding contract to benefit the parties.

Both my law firm, The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, LLC and Candace's law firm, Hahn & Pollock, LLC are available for group presentations or one on one consultations.

No comments:

Post a Comment