Same-sex partners get old, like everybody else. Like everybody else, they can also get sick as they age. And, eventually – like everybody else – they pass on. But – unlike – everybody else – they may require special types of estate planning to ensure that their wishes are followed in each of these scenarios.
For example, their relatives may be more likely to cause problems before they die. And their heirs may be more likely to cause problems after they die.
There could be issues revolving around long-term care and Medicaid. Family members may not recognize the surviving partner as a spouse. Florida, of course, does not allow same-sex marriages; nor does it recognize those performed in other states. The following is just a partial list of rights and privileges not accorded to same-sex or non-traditional couples in Florida:
- Elective Share
- Exempt Property
- Marital Deduction
- IRA rollovers
- First right to be named Guardian in a pre-need declaration
- Right to make health-care decisions if there’s no Living Will or Surrogate
- Inheritance rights
- Tax breaks
- Medicaid breaks
As a result, the drafting of documents for a same-sex couple must be more detailed. For example, you need to be very specific about defining words such as “partner,” “separation,” and “incapacity.” (Although, on the other hand, the definition of “children” may be broader.) Any joint property has to be addressed, along with estate taxes and Medicaid issues. All healthcare decisions – including the right even to visit your partner in the hospital – should be agreed upon and probably formalized, and copies given to all doctors.
Among the documents you should have: wills and trusts; Advance Directives (Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate, Living Will); and Disposition of Remains. Among those you might want to consider: Deed to the home; designation of beneficiaries; POD accounts; and life insurance.
Sound confusing? You have no idea! But help is available.
The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates practice Elder Law. And over the past 33 years, we’ve helped many same-sex and non-traditional couples to ensure their wishes will be followed – with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care plans, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid and the VA.
If you’re a non-traditional couple, we can get you through the Elder Law Journey. And we’re just a phone call away.
Estate Planning For Non-Traditional Couples: Part 2