Estate Planning For Same-Sex Couples

A woman is driving home after a long day at work and her car is hit.  As a result, she goes into a coma.  Her partner, who is already distraught by the turn of events, learns that she is not entitled to medical information for her partner since she is not related or married to the injured under Ohio law.   She is forced to hire an attorney, go to probate court to be appointed guardian before she can receive medical information and make medical decisions on behalf of her partner. All of this at great time and expense.

Eventually, her partner passes away and she finds out that because her partner did not have a Will, all of the assets in her deceased partner’s name are left to her deceased partner’s siblings and not her partner of 10 years.  When she goes to administer her deceased partner’s estate, she learns that she must now also post bond to be appointed administrator.  Another avoidable expense.   This is an unfortunate scenario that, while fictional and for illustrative purposes in this article, can happen to same-sex couples living in Ohio that have not completed their estate planning with a qualified attorney.

Not every state in the U.S. recognizes same-sex marriage, and those that do may not provide all of the same rights.  Ohio is one of those states that does not recognize same-sex marriages.  As such, it is extremely important for same-sex couples to have a Will and Power of Attorney documents that specify his or her partner as the executor, as the beneficiary to inherit assets, and as the agent to make decisions regarding finances and healthcare treatment if incapacitated.

Without these documents in place, your partner will not inherit your assets in Ohio, may not make healthcare decisions or even receive health information, and may not be able to obtain financial information or make financial decisions for you when you are unable to do so without being appointed guardian by the Court.  To avoid this result, we can prepare a Will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and Financial Power of Attorney documents that grant your partner rights not otherwise afforded in Ohio.

The cost is usually minimal, particularly when compared to the costs of guardianship, bond premiums, etc. that result if these estate planning documents are not in place when unexpected tragedy strikes.  Once in place, often these documents are suitable for many years and only need updated if there is a significant change in your family life or wealth.   In a relatively short-period of time you can have peace of mind knowing how your estate will be administered according to your wishes and that the person you love the most will be the one making decisions about your care and finances if you are unable.   While everyone should have these estate planning documents in place, it is particularly important for same-sex couples.  If you are in a need of a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney documents, please contact attorney Christian D. Donovan (614) 229-4476.

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