In 2015, the United States Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to legally marry their partners as a result of the civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Hundreds of thousands of couples in Florida and across the country have since married due to the Supreme Court ruling, prompting many of them to explore the additional legal parameters surrounding their finances.
For many same-sex couples living in Central Florida, the ability to have a legal partnership provides various advantages, including certain benefits that can protect both their rights and their mutual assets. More than ever before, families in Florida are learning that estate planning is an essential aspect of same-sex couples planning for their future.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the legal preparation of directions for managing important assets in the event of an individual’s death. This process allows you to determine how your affairs will be settled when you pass away, ensuring that your requests are legally binding. The definition of an estate refers to the money and property owned by an individual, which includes:
- Real estate property
- Land (vacant and agricultural)
- Stocks, Bonds, and other investments
- Insurance Policies
- Debt and other liabilities
- Pension payments
- Antiques and collectibles
- Online digital assets
- And many other items that have a value
Working with an experienced attorney can help determine the best way to distribute valuable possessions that you and your spouse may own. In addition to organizing your financial assets, an estate plan also includes certain important documents that dictate information about your end-of-life care.
- Living will: Choose how you are taken care of if you are incapacitated, including the decision of how long to keep yourself on life support.
- Health care surrogate: Designate an individual, typically your spouse, to give informed medical consent on your behalf.
- Pre-need guardianship: Choose who will act as your legal guardian, typically your spouse, if a court determines that one is required for you.
- Power of attorney: Designate financial and healthcare power of attorney to an individual, typically your spouse, in the event that you are incapacitated.
- Last will and testament: Choose how your beneficiaries inherit your assets and property in the event of your death.
- Disposition of remains: Designate the way that your remains are handled and cared for after you pass away.
For couples in same-sex marriages living in Central Florida, working with an experienced estate planning attorney to decide these important factors early can save time, reduce stress, and provide long-lasting peace of mind.
Why is Estate Planning Important for Same-Sex Couples?
One of the most vital aspects of a legal same-sex marriage is the ability for partners to retain the same rights as all married couples, such as the ability to make important medical decisions on behalf of your spouse. These rights allow a same-sex spouse to determine what happens to their partner in the event of an emergency and how they are cared for by medical personnel per their spouse’s wishes. Same-sex married couples are also entitled to access important medical documents under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA).
The process of estate planning is also vital for any couple that has children together or plans to raise one in the future. An attorney can provide guidance on the best possible options for listing a child as a beneficiary, providing them with financial assets, or gifting them certain titles such as property or land ownership.
How Can Patriot Legal Group Help with Estate Planning?
Many same-sex couples living in Central Florida may believe that they only need to create an estate plan if they are wealthy or in the event that one of them falls ill. The truth is that estate planning is a necessary part of entering into a marriage, regardless of how much money you have in the bank or how much property you own.
Establishing guidelines for the distribution of your valuables and personal possessions is just one small part of estate planning, which also allows you to dictate how you are taken care of in a medical setting and whether or not your spouse will have the ability to make decisions on your behalf in the event of an emergency.
The team of experienced estate planning attorneys at Patriot Legal Group can also ensure that you and your spouse receive one another’s social security benefits, help you establish retirement accounts, and set up other guidelines for distributing your inheritance.
Talk with a Trusted Estate Planning Attorney in Central Florida
If you’re looking to provide peace of mind for both you and your spouse, the best way to ensure that your assets are securely taken care of is to contact the office of Patriot Legal Group and begin the process of setting up your estate plan. There has never been a better time for same-sex couples to establish important documents that can them save time and money in the event of an accident.
To schedule a consultation, call us at (407) 737-7222 or reach out to us online for more information.