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Some important estate planning considerations for married same-sex couples

June 26, 2015 was a day of great celebration for LGBT couples across the nation and around the world, as the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its historic decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states in Obergefell v. Hodges.

While the decision will forever be cause for celebration, it's important for those same-sex couples who have since tied the knot not to overlook some important legal matters, including estate planning considerations.

This may understandably seem like a complex undertaking, but experts indicate that the Obergefell decision has actually made things much simpler for same-sex couples from an estate planning perspective.

What then are the estate planning considerations that married same-sex couples should keep in mind?

Execution of a simple will    

Experts indicate that, at the very least, married same-sex couples must consider the execution of a simple will, as it will enable them to ensure that their assets are distributed as they see fit and avoid potentially costly legal disputes.

Perhaps more significantly, it will enable them to appoint guardians for any minor children.

Execution of a trust

While a trust may seem like something reserved for only the ultra-wealthy, this is far from the reality. Indeed, trusts are a viable estate planning mechanism for people from all walks of life.

Some advantages of executing a trust include avoidance of the probate process, enhanced privacy and minimization of potential tax liability.  

For these and other reasons, experts indicate that married same-sex couples should consider executing a trust.

Execution of a durable power of attorney and health care proxy

While most people assume that marriage automatically creates a power of attorney or its functional equivalent in the eyes of the law, this is once again far from the reality. Indeed, married same-sex couples will want and need to execute a durable power of attorney.

This very powerful document will essentially grant a spouse the power to make legal and financial decisions on the other's behalf in the event of their incapacity.

As for the health care proxy, it essentially grants a person the ability to appoint their spouse to serve as a health care agent authorized to make medical decisions on their behalf.

If you are a newly married same-sex couple who would like to learn more about these or other important estate planning matters, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.

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