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LGBTQ+ Couples and the Importance of Estate Planning

Law Office of Rodney Gould April 26, 2023

Anyone who’s in a committed partnership knows how important it is to love and care for their partner, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. One way we do this for our loved ones is by establishing an estate plan to ensure they’re cared for even after we pass, but this can be more complicated for those in the LGBTQ community.  

According to the 2021 U.S. Census data, there are roughly 1.2 million same-sex couple households in the country, but of these, only about 710,000 are legally married.  

While marriage isn’t a requirement, not being married can present certain obstacles that should be addressed with an attorney. If you’re in the Los Angeles, California area, including Sherman Oaks, Studio City, West Hollywood, or Beverly Hills, contact the Law Office of Rodney Gould to speak with an LGBTQ estate planning attorney. Attorney Rodney Gould has everything necessary to assist your specific situation while keeping your best interests in mind. 

Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners

Anytime you’re estate planning for unmarried partners, there are certain considerations to keep in mind.  

  • Making a will or trust: You can name anyone as a beneficiary when writing up a will or trust, and this can be either a spouse or an unmarried partner. However, if you fail to write a will before you pass away, your assets will be subject to California’s intestate succession laws which could mean an unmarried partner is left without anything.      

  • Avoiding probate: Probate is a legal process that many estates must go through after someone passes away, even for those with wills in place. Where it can present a problem, though, is for unmarried couples who can’t take advantage of state law that allows spouses to receive assets and bypass probate by filing a Spousal Property petition.  

  • Health Care Directive: By naming your partner in the role of power of attorney for health care, you can ensure that they will be the ones making medical decisions on your behalf, not a blood relative.  

  • Financial Power of Attorney: Like your health care decisions, you can also name your partner to be your financial power of attorney.    

  • Estate Taxes: Lastly, although California doesn’t impose its own estate tax, if you have a considerably large estate, it may be subject to federal estate tax, and only assets left to a legally married spouse will be tax-exempt.   

Estate Planning for Married Couples

While being legally married to your partner can certainly make things easier, you’ll want to learn more about potential concerns with children and LGBTQ estate planning. Specifically, if you and your spouse share a child, but only one partner is the biological parent and the other parent hasn’t legally adopted the child, they may lose their parental rights if the biological parent passes away. This is why it’s essential to name the other parent as the legal guardian as soon as possible and ensure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your wishes. 

Reliable & Compassionate Legal Help

Although the country has moved in a positive direction relating to LBGTQ rights, there are still challenges for same-sex couples in estate planning. The best way to address these is to work with an experienced and compassionate attorney who can evaluate your specific needs and wishes for your family and ensure your estate plan accurately reflects this, no matter if you’re already married or need help with unmarried same-sex estate planning. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not your partner will be afforded the same considerations as opposite-sex partners, but the reality is, we’re not quite there yet. The good news is, there’s help available.    

For help in and around the Los Angeles, California, area with your estate planning questions, contact the Law Office of Rodney Gould to schedule a consultation. He has the knowledge, resources, and experience to protect your family and future.