A Nod to Commitment
The concept of marriage has evolved, and equality has become a legal reality. Same-sex marriage is now legally recognized in every state. In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the most basic social institution for preserving relationships – marriage – to same-sex couples.
In a case titled Obergefell v. Hodges, through a fusion of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court reasoned that marriage is a fundamental constitutional right available to same-sex couples nationwide.
Marriage equality brings to same sex couples all the practical implications of marriage. Income tax compliance, real estate ownership, marital agreements, divorce and estate planning are some of the practical implications that deserve consideration.
Marital agreements can be a beneficial tool when utilized correctly. A legally valid pre or postnuptial agreement can avoid drawn-out litigation and excessive legal costs. The idea is to preserve respect and avoid unnecessary conflict if the marriage breaks down.
The legal status of parenting, adoption, and custody surrounding same-sex couples is developing. Consequently, it is still important that affirmative action be taken to ensure the legal rights of parents and children are protected. This is especially true if the child was born prior to the Obergefell decision.
It is wise to consult with an experienced attorney about implementing safeguards to prevent catastrophe that can be easily avoided with careful planning.
Estate Planning and Probate Administration
The laws governing property disbursement upon death favor marital and biological relationships, but allowing a court to dictate disbursement of your assets is always less than ideal. An “unplanned estate” can lead to increased administration costs and a higher likelihood of conflict between loved ones. Estate planning will ensure your wishes are honored and help avoid the uncertainty of unplanned probate administration.
Planning for the disbursement of assets is not the only consideration in estate planning. Married and unmarried couples should ensure someone they trust has the ability to make medical and financial decisions in the event of disability or incapacity. Powers of attorney can be drafted to avoid conflict and help ensure your wishes are respected.
Forethought is always preferable to uncertainty.
For additional information regarding estate planning, click here.
If you would like more information on these topics or to begin planning for your future, click here to contact our office to set up an appointment.