Despite the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S., many older same-sex couples still face challenges and need special estate planning.
The decision by the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. has given many older couples the ability to legalize their relationships for the first time. By doing so they get all the estate planning benefits that married heterosexual couples have always enjoyed.
They have a right to a share of their spouses' estates even in the absence of a will. They are also allowed greater input in their spouses' medical care even without a health care power of attorney.
However, as the Columbus Dispatch explains in "Older same-sex couples face specific challenges" same-sex couples still face discrimination in other areas.
In many parts of the country discrimination in housing and employment is still not illegal against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Having a same-sex marriage announced in a newspaper could cause some people to be fired or evicted from their homes. Others fear social stigma and would prefer that their sexual orientation not be made public.
This leads to some older same-sex couples not getting married and thus not getting the estate planning benefits of being married.
Fortunately, same-sex couples who fear discrimination have other options besides marriage.
Traditional estate planning methods of ensuring a loved one is taken care of after a partner passes away are still available. Powers of attorney can be drafted to give a long-time partner control over financial and health care decisions as well.
In fact, all couples, both same-sex and heterosexual, should have estate plans prepared if they want to best protect their loved ones.
Reference: Columbus Dispatch (March 13, 2016) "Older same-sex couples face specific challenges"
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