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Same-sex couples and estate planning: some things to think about

To say that a common core of estate planning considerations and strategies is equally applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, respectively, is an obvious oversimplification.

And, indeed, it is an inapt observation even where heterosexual planning partners alone are considered.

Candidly, same-sex partners often bring a set of concerns to a proven planning attorney that are materially differentiated from those of so-called "straight" couples.

Here's one: a necessary focus on the fundamental question of whether two people of the same sex are even married.

Of course, same-sex marriage is legal in every state of the country, something we pointed out in our September 16 blog entry of last year discussing the seminal U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Yet one recent news article on planning considerations germane to some same-sex couples points to an anomalous situation in which same-sex individuals who once tied the marital knot might not even know that they are still married.

Notably, some couples who were legally betrothed in one state prior to Obergefell moved thereafter to other states where same-sex unions were disallowed. Certain of those unions did not endure, with the individuals not bothering to formally dissolve their marriages, given their illegality in the state where they resided.

The bottom line, as stressed in the aforementioned news report, is that, "There are a lot of people out there who are married and don't know it."

The cited article notes several other "special situations" that might apply with special emphasis to same-sex individuals seeking to implement sound estate plans. Those can range widely from child-centric matters and adoption to health care issues, trust administration and additional concerns.

An established estate administration attorney who routinely helps same-sex clients implement tailored and goal-promoting planning strategies can provide further information.

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