Tag: partner

How Can Estate Plans Help Same-Sex Couples?

Estate plans can greatly help same-sex couples manage their financial and medical affairs, as well as protect each other even after death. While same-sex married couples have many of the same estate planning advantages as opposite-sex married couples, people who are unmarried should take special care to plan ahead.

Managing Financial and Medical Affairs with an Estate Plan

An unmarried person may have trouble handling his or her partner’s affairs if the partner becomes very ill or mentally incapacitated. The same is true for married couples who do not share the same last name. Medical and financial institutions are more likely to ask for proof of marriage or simply block you from making decisions on your partner’s behalf. As a result, you might be kept out of the hospital room at a key time or be unable to pay the bills.

Estate planning can help with these problems. Both unmarried and married couples may sign powers of attorney in each other’s favor that have been prepared by an estate planning lawyer. A power of attorney gives a chosen person authority to make decisions for the creator. It can go into effect when the creator becomes incapacitated from making decisions or at any other time. Powers of attorney may be medical or financial, and many people choose to sign special advance directives that address a variety of medical and end-of-life questions.

Protecting Each Other During Life and After Death with an Estate Plan

Another significant concern for same-sex couples is protecting each other financially in the event of life changes or even the death of one partner. Without an estate plan in place, a married spouse will most likely inherit part of the estate from the other spouse. But unmarried partners who have not made wills have no entitlement to part of each other’s estates. Instead, the money or property would be divided up among close family members such as children and parents.

To gain more peace of mind that your wishes for your partner or spouse will be carried out, you need to make a will. This legal document explains how and to whom an executor should distribute your money and property after you have passed away. You can consult an estate planning lawyer to help you prepare your will and get it properly executed.

In addition, you can protect your partner or spouse through other estate planning structures. You might consider leaving resources to them through a trust, life insurance, retirement accounts, or lifetime gifts. To put these structures in place, you need to take a few steps such as filling out beneficiary designations and checking on tax consequences. Speak to an estate planning lawyer to learn more.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Updating Your Estate Plan After Marriage

After you get married, you may need to make substantial updates to your estate plan. Marriage changes many parts of people’s lives, including their need to plan for the future in different ways.

How Could Marriage Change Your Estate Plan?

As you celebrate the beginning of a new marriage, you also might think about protecting your spouse in case anything happens to you. If you plan to have children or have new stepchildren due to the marriage, you probably want to protect them too.

Estate plans made before marriage most likely do not include future spouses or children. As a result, your new husband, wife, or partner might not inherit anything from your estate if you passed away unexpectedly. While spouses and children omitted from a will may inherit part of an estate in some cases, there are no guarantees. It provides more peace of mind to revise your will and other estate planning structures.

Will Your New Spouse Inherit Even If You Don’t Change Your Estate Plan?

In Illinois, an “omitted” spouse who married a deceased person after his or her will was signed and who is not included in the will might still inherit. The law may allow the spouse to make a claim against the estate, requiring the estate executor to distribute part of the assets to the spouse and reducing the amount that other heirs will receive. However, if the will explicitly omits the spouse, then the omitted spouse law may not apply. If any language in the will says that a spouse will not receive anything, then the probate court could decide that the deceased person disinherited the spouse on purpose.

Which Parts of Your Estate Plan Do You Need to Update?

You should review your entire estate plan shortly after marriage to see if you need to make any changes. This includes your will, powers of attorney, medical directives, trusts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, business succession plans, guardianship designations, and any other documents relating to the future. You and your spouse may want to visit an estate planning attorney (either the one who made your original estate plan or someone new). The attorney can advise you on any new legal issues that arise with your marriage, such as potential estate taxes or need for different language in the legal documents.

Want to update your estate plan? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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