Estate planning is important for any individual and is especially important for couples or families. Estate documents, including wills, provide a number of protections for both the individual and his or her heirs. Wills dictate your wishes about how assets will be divided, but they also help document your wishes in a number of other areas. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples in Nevada and other states, wills are essential in protecting partners.
Estate laws differ in each state, but many states do offer some basic protections for married couples. Couples who aren’t legally married don’t always benefit from the same rules, which could include tax-free inheritance or a legal understanding that a spouse will inherit some or all of an estate in the absence of a will.
Because LGBT marriages aren’t recognized in every state, even those couples who have sought a civil union could be unprotected depending on the state where they are currently living. If one partner passes on without a will, then his or her assets could become difficult to access, creating unnecessary difficulty for the surviving partner. A will lets individuals bequeath assets to anyone through a binding legal document, solving the problem in many cases.
Wills also become important if both individuals pass away. Whether or not either person in the relationship has a direct descendent, without a will, assets could be up for grabs by a number of people or organizations. A will protects desired heirs and ensures assets are transferred in keeping with the couple’s wishes.
In addition to a will, LGBT couples may want to consider trusts or other legal documents. Trusts could afford couples shelter from estate taxes in certain states. Seeking information about estate documents can help any couple decide what they need with regard to estate planning.
Source: the Edwardsville Intelligencer, “Estate planning for LGBT couples” Larry Zucksworth, Jun. 25, 2014