While same sex marriage has been allowed in Massachusetts for over 10 years, the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the legality of such unions, has brought to light some of the matters that same sex-couples should address. For example, LGBT couples need to make sure that their estate plan adequately reflects their wishes regarding their spouse.
A survey conducted by Wells Fargo in July, indicates that more same-sex couples need to discuss financial matters. Matters that same-sex couples failed to discuss include: their personal view on money, whether to merge assets and accounts and the joint obligations that arise once married.
Depending on one’s goals regarding estate planning, the way to go about accomplishing them will vary. Besides a will, there are several other tools that could be used.
The first is a Transfer on Death agreement. A way of avoiding probate, the funds the deceased person previously placed in brokerage accounts, are dispersed automatically to the person named. A Payable on Death arrangement works much the same way. When the person who holds accounts, such as checking and savings, dies, the individual named as the beneficiary will automatically receive the assets.
A retirement plan could also be used to accomplish a smooth transfer. While surviving married spouses could automatically have rights to the money in a retirement plan, to make sure the assets go to the right person, beneficiaries to 401(k)s and IRAs should be named. When a life change happens—such as a birth, death or divorce—the beneficiary should be updated.
Because estate planning matters can be complicated, it is a good idea for those seeking to do this to work with a professional in the field. An estate planning lawyer could be of assistance.