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Tips for estate planning in domestic partnerships

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. However, just because it is legal, doesn’t mean that all long-time couples in California get married. At Dianne Drew Butler & Associates, Inc., we know this makes it crucial to ensure you take time for estate planning.

Domestic partnership protections can vary by municipality and may be created by using private documentation or by signing a state registry. Unfortunately, even a formalized relationship lacks many of the benefits of marriage. If you are in a domestic partnership, you can take steps to ensure your partner and family are taken care of when you die.

According to Fidelity, you should make sure you have a will and that it is updated. Without one, you may have little say in who your children’s guardians will be if they are minors. If there are assets subject to probate, the state distributes them regardless of your wishes, as domestic partners are not recognized as natural heirs.

Setting up trusts, titling and beneficiary designations can add further protection for your loved ones.

  • Trusts - You retain control of the assets included in the trust until you die. Upon your death, it transfers to the beneficiaries, without the probate costs.
  • Titling - If you have property or a residence, this ensures you can designate who receives it after your death.
  • Beneficiary designations – Assets such as bank accounts, life insurance and retirement accounts are decided by probate court if there are no designated beneficiaries.

While members of the LGBT community can take advantage of the protections offered by marriage, not all couples wish to do so. Estate planning can ensure assets are distributed according to each partner’s wishes. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.

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