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Everyone has estate planning needs

Just as the saying goes about death and taxes, estate planning is a common need for anyone with even modest assets. While LGBT couples might find their needs differ slightly because of cultural or social concerns, the truth is that the law treats most like cases in a similar manner, especially now that all couples are afforded the protection of civil marriages.

For example, one estate-planning concern that all couples have is what happens when one person dies. Is the other person left with enough to make ends meet, plus cover funeral and possible medical expenses? This can be a big concern for any couple when one of the individuals earns a substantial amount of the total income. Couples should always work to put away enough to provide for each other, but when one person is the breadwinner, then plans should be made provide for and protect the other person.

If children are involved in the relationship, then there are even more concerns. Whether or not a couple is married, if they have children, they might need to create estate documents that establish continuation of care for those children in the future. If someone happens to one individual within the couple, then arrangements might include funds to help the other person care for minor children. If both individuals pass away, then estate documents should include provisions for a custodial guardian for the minor children.

Partners or married couples should also ensure beneficiary status on all accounts, insurance policies and retirement forms is appropriately set. Beneficiaries aren't always automatically a spouse or partner, and certain paperwork is usually required to change beneficiary designations. Working with legal and financial professionals who can help you plan your estate ensures that you don't leave any of these important details out of the process.

Source: AARP, "Estate Planning for LGBT Couples," Joseph Kapp, accessed Oct. 16, 2015

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