Estate-Planning Attorney Lisa McDevitt Advises Planning for the Future in Same-Sex Union
Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) July 8, 2014 – On June 28, 1969, members of the gay community spontaneously rose up in protest against a police raid being conducted at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The ensuing riot is now considered one of the most important instigating events for the LGBT rights movement that followed.
Though there is no set date for LGBT Pride events nationally, many cities center their events to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. Now, as June comes to a close with days or weeks of pride for the LGBT community, extra attention should be paid to all aspects of LGBT life, including plans for a person’s estate after death.
Forty-five years later, same-sex couples still face uneven marriage laws across the country. As such, estate planning for gay and lesbian couples can be particularly challenging. Moreover, the long fight for marriage equality has made careful plans for the death of an LGBT spouse or partner all the more crucial, because federal and state laws are in a constant state of change.
“Fortunately, the issues of importance remain the same,” said Lisa McDevitt, a prominent estate planning and family law attorney in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. “Estate tax and gift tax exclusions apply to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, and the steps needed are the same for everyone. You and your partner should each create a clear will. Each of you needs to create clear guidelines for end-of-life healthcare, probate, powers of attorney and burial arrangements.”
But designations need to be exceptionally clear when they involve a same-sex partner or spouse. Civil unions, domestic partnerships, and fully recognized marriages may all require different measures when a person is planning his or her estate. Divorces may be recognized in some states, but not in others. If a person has a previous heterosexual marriage, it can disrupt his or her current intentions for the assets in the estate unless stated explicitly. In the same way, many of the allowances heterosexual spouses have in probate and inheritance stiffen for homosexual, technically unmarried couples.
“If you and your spouse are not married under the conventional legal definition of the term, it can become more difficult for your surviving spouse to carry out your wishes and receive the support you want to give,” McDevitt explained. “Health care directives are among the most common points of conflict: some unions leave that relationship more open to question in some states. If you want to ensure that your partner makes health care decisions if you become unable to do so, it is best to spell it out beyond a doubt.”
LGBT state regulations differ. Federal regulations differ from department to department. As a person navigates this complex, still-changing field, the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney is indispensable.
Those planning their estates as part of a same-sex union should keep extremely careful financial records. As in any complex situation, planners should consult with an attorney early and ensure that terms are flexible and comprehensive enough to stand up to changing laws.
Lisa Lane McDevitt
2155 Bonaventure Drive
Vienna, VA 22181
Toll Free: 866-602-7850
- Women Have Usually Trumped Men in Child Custody, But More Men May Win custody Cases
In divorce cases, child custody and child support (its possible financial corollary) have, traditionally, been skewed heavily in the mother’s favor. But changing legal doctrines, social mores and economic factors have been changing the balance. Statistics from recent decades show that women were consistently awarded custody of children from 1993 through 2007 — 83 percent [...]
- Watching for deception: Bitcoin may be used to conceal assets in divorce
Increasingly, divorcing spouses who wish to conceal their assets are turning to electronic currencies like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the most popular of a host of computer-generated currencies that are used to buy all manner of goods and services. It rivals cash in terms of its anonymity and surpasses it in its ease of transfer and [...]
- Extra estate planning support may be necessary for those with dementia
Disabilities that sometimes develop with age can inhibit long-term planning skills. If you deal with such a condition, you may need to adjust your plans for the future so that they can support you and adhere to your wishes under any circumstance. The best advice is simply to start early. If Alzheimer’s or another form [...]
- When estate planning involves minor children, a testamentary trust may be the best option
One of the advantages of a living trust is that the assets held within it are not subject to probate, which can be a complicated, drawn-out and costly process. As such, many people automatically choose living trusts as they plan their estates. But there is another type of trust: a testamentary trust. While probate is [...]
- Good estate planning depends on good communication with loved ones
Because estate planning involves preparation for the disposition of assets after death, people often feel uncomfortable discussing it. It can be especially challenging for people to face planning with their children. But serious challenges can arise from a lack of communication between estate grantors and their children (their most likely beneficiaries and executors) before death [...]
- When Mediation Is Not the Best Way to Resolve a Divorce
Divorce proceedings can be expensive as well as time-consuming and emotionally draining on the main parties involved. An array of issues, including the division of property, child custody, alimony and other items of contention can prove to be the catalyst for a contentious, drawn-out affair in court. Mediation is often suggested as a viable alternative [...]