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Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples

Nashville Attorneys Helping Families Plan for the Future

In recent years, same-sex couples have been gaining rights previously only afforded to heterosexual couples nationwide. Because of these changing times, as well as other issues that may potentially arise, same-sex couples may need to revisit plans or establish new plans for their estates. The Nashville estate planning lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC are dedicated to helping same-sex couples determine which estate planning tools and documents are necessary and appropriate for their goals and interests. Our firm has extensive experience assisting people with ensuring that their wishes are carried out properly after they pass. Estate planning is an important step in protecting the future of your loved ones. If you have questions regarding estate planning for same-sex couples, you should contact our office to discuss your options and learn more about our services.

Considerations for Same-Sex Couples in the Estate Planning Process

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states. With this ruling, same-sex couples are now entitled to the same financial and legal benefits as any other married couple, including rights and benefits related to what happens to their estates. Previously, same-sex couples generally needed to explicitly state which rights a partner had in a document, setting terms for making financial or medical decisions on behalf of each other. Contrastingly, these types of instruments were not necessary for heterosexual married couples because the law presumed their existence. Given the recent change in federal law, these types of existing documents can cause confusion or create ambiguities in certain circumstances. As a result, estate planning for same-sex couples often involves re-examining any outdated estate planning instruments to ensure that they still convey their wishes.

Since the state previously did not recognize same-sex marriage at all, the Supreme Court decision makes estate planning easier for Tennessee residents. Married same-sex spouses will now automatically inherit their spouse’s estate upon either’s death. For these reasons, certain considerations regarding financial, health, and legal planning should be addressed. For instance, some couples may want to establish a trust to hold certain assets or property to ensure that an inheritance does not affect a spouse’s eligibility for governmental programs like Medicaid (TennCare).

For same-sex couples that do not choose to marry, as with heterosexual couples that make the same choice, executing the proper instruments is important to ensuring that the proper protocols are followed. Advanced directives or living wills give decision-making power to a designated individual, either a partner or someone else, in the event that a person is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves. These documents can be as specific or as general as an individual desires, and they are vital to avoid confusion during emergencies or other stressful times that may arise. Additionally, various types of trusts and wills can be utilized in order to distribute property to multiple beneficiaries, establish assets for another person’s care, or otherwise stipulate how assets should be handled upon an individual’s death or during their lifetime. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney who can help identify your goals and create an estate plan to match them is vital to ensuring that the appropriate actions are taken.

Contact a Nashville Lawyer for Your Estate Planning Needs

Estate planning for same-sex couples is an important way for each partner to protect their assets and family after they are gone, and it also helps them make vital decisions in the event that they become incapacitated. The Nashville lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC can help you make sure that your family remains legally protected and receives the proper care and support. Our firm represents people throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties, including in Franklin, Hermitage, East Nashville, Brentwood, and Sylvan Park. If you need legal guidance regarding any type of estate planning matter, contact us online or call us at 615-800-7096 to learn more about how our estate planning and probate lawyers can assist you.